What is laser vision correction?

Laser vision correction is an outpatient procedure to correct "refractive errors" in your eyes. That's when the shape of your eye incorrectly bends light as it enters your eye, resulting in blurry vision. This leads to being near-sighted or far-sighted. The surgery uses a "cool ultraviolet laser" to reshape the cornea, the clear layer of tissue that covers the front of your eye and through which light enters. The surgery corrects the refractive error, eliminating your need for glasses or contacts to correct your vision.

Is laser vision correction surgery right for me?

Many people who are near-sighted, far-sighted or have astigmatism are good candidates for laser vision correction surgery. Our doctors at the Casey Vision Correction Center regularly conduct free seminars about LASIK and laser vision correction procedures. They will explain how the surgery is done, discuss the risks and benefits, and help you understand your options.

If you think laser vision correction might be right for you, you can schedule an appointment that will include a comprehensive eye exam. After that exam, your Casey ophthalmologist will talk to you about whether the surgery could help your vision. The appointment costs $100, which will be deducted from the cost of surgery when you book your procedure.

Who is not a good candidate?

Some people are not good candidates for laser vision correction surgery. Most often, that's because their health situation means their vision is unstable and changing. The surgery achieves the best results when the patient's vision is stable. Take the quiz – Is LASIK right for you?

People who are not good candidates include:

  • People who are younger than 21. (Casey only performs the surgeries on patients 21 and older.)
  • People whose contact lens or glasses prescriptions have changed in the past year.
  • People whose hormones are fluctuating due to diseases such as diabetes.
  • Women who are pregnant, are breastfeeding or have been breastfeeding in the previous three to six months.
  • People who have autoimmune diseases (like lupus or rheumatoid arthritis), are immunodeficient (have HIV, for instance) or are taking some medications (like steroids). These can all prevent proper healing after the surgery.

Can both of my eyes be treated on the same day?

Yes. Most of our patients elect to have both eyes done in one visit. However, this decision should be discussed during your pre-op appointment.

Is laser vision correction surgery painful?

No. Your eye is carefully anesthetized with drops before the surgery. You won't feel any pain during the procedure. If you choose, we can often prescribe a sedative to help you relax during the surgery. Some patients report minor discomfort after the surgery.

How long does the surgery take?

The laser portion of the surgery takes about one minute per eye. However, you can expect to be in the laser suite for 15 to 30 minutes per eye, and to be at the Casey Eye Institute building for about two to 2 1/2 hours on the day of surgery.

How long does recovery take?

Refractive procedures are performed in an outpatient setting and are usually painless. You will be able to go home right after surgery with sunglasses. You should be able to return to work or normal activities within days. 

Are there side effects from the surgery?

You may experience some normal side effects from the surgery in the first few hours or days, but they will heal over time. Side effects may include:

  • Light sensitivity, which can last for a few hours up to a couple of days.
  • Itchy, scratchy eyes, but it is important not to rub your eyes for the first two months after surgery. Preservative-free artificial tears can help your eyes feel more comfortable.
  • Dry eyes, which may be caused by the procedure affecting how your eye naturally produces tears. Artificial tears can help. Symptom can last for a few months after the surgery, usually improving within six to 12 months.

Why choose a surgeon involved with cornea research?

Since the cornea is the outer surface of the eye, it is vulnerable to problems such as scratches, infection and swelling. Laser surgery may also make the eye vulnerable to some of these conditions. Having a doctor with extraordinary knowledge of the structure of the cornea and the healing processes can be of great benefit. Our doctors are highly aware of potential post-operative problems and how to prevent or solve them. They often help patients who had surgery elsewhere and who have concerns about their post-operative condition. 

Will my age affect my results?

Not significantly. While you must be 21 or older for laser vision correction surgery, there is no other age requirement. If you are in your mid-40s or older, laser vision correction will correct your distance vision, but you will still need reading glasses. Younger patients can expect to enjoy good near and distance vision, but will likely need reading glasses in their 40s or 50s.

Why can't we guarantee perfect results?

No reputable surgeon can promise that you will have 20/20 vision or be forever free of glasses or contact lenses after the surgery. Each eye is unique, and not all eyes heal in the same way. If results are not satisfactory after a first procedure, a second surgery can be performed to fine-tune the results. Approximately 2 to 5% of our patients undergo a second procedure, known as an enhancement. This is most common in people whose eyes required greater levels of correction. The Casey Vision Correction Center performs enhancement surgeries at no charge for one year following the initial surgery.

The overwhelming majority of our patients are very happy with the results of their first laser vision correction surgery.

Are there any safety benefits of LASIK, compared to contact lenses?

Casey Eye Institute doctors conducted a study to determine whether contact lenses were safer than LASIK surgery. They found that both contact lenses and LASIK are very safe, although there is a small risk of complications from both of them. Read more on LASIK vs. contact lenses.

What are potential risks and other things I should know about the surgery?

The skills and experience of our surgeons ensure that laser vision correction surgery at Casey is extremely safe. But complications — while rare — can happen with any surgery. Rare complications might include corneal flap complications, corneal haze, undercorrection or overcorrection, impaired night vision, possible continuing need for corrective lenses and the need for reading glasses.

What does laser vision correction cost?

Optimized and custom LASIK with Intralase--the most advanced form of the surgery--and PRK cost $2,250 per eye at The Casey Vision Correction Center. During your pre-operative examination, your doctor will talk with you about the best procedure or procedures for your situation. Our fees include pre-operative evaluation, all surgical care, post-operative care, post-operative ophthalmic eye drops and any enhancement procedures (if needed) for a period of one year.

What are my options for payment?

We accept all major credit cards and also offer interest-free "CareCredit" financing options for six, 12 or 18 months. Call us to learn more about your financing options. We cannot accept cash or checks at the center.

Will my insurance cover laser vision correction surgery?

This is an elective procedure not covered by most insurance plans. Check with your insurance carrier for details of your plan.

Do I need to come to Casey for follow-up appointments if I live far from Portland?

If frequent visits to the Casey Eye Institute are inconvenient for you, you may be able to complete your post-surgery follow-up care with your regular eye care provider. Most eye care providers are willing to co-manage with us; please make these arrangements prior to your pre-op visit at Casey Eye Institute.  We will provide all of the necessary forms to your doctor's office.

Details of your procedure and specific post-op instructions will be forwarded to your co-managing eye care professional. We will remain available to your co-manager throughout your recovery.

Choosing the co-management option reduces your surgery fee by $195 per eye. You will, however, be responsible for paying your co-managing eye care provider according to his or her fee schedule.