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If you regularly wear eyeglasses or contact lenses, chances are you’ve longed for the days to see out in the distance (or down at that best-selling novel you’re reading) as clear as your 20/20 vision-sporting friends.
Good news: there’s actually a way to make that happen! Enter LASIK laser eye surgery. That’s right — there’s a more permanent solution to your eyewear woes out there, and it’s a lot less scary than you might have previously thought. Curious to learn more? Keep reading to find out more about the procedure and if you’d make a great candidate.
What is LASIK?
LASIK, which is actually a handy acronym for laser in-situ keratomileusis, is a type of eye surgery that can correct vision in those:
- Nearsighted, when you can see things clearly when they’re close to you, but things farther away are blurry,
- Farsighted, when you see far away things more clearly, but things close to you are blurry,
- or with astigmatism, which can make everything blurry because of the shape of your eye.
Of course, glasses or contact lenses can correct these vision problems. But if you’d rather have a more permanent and effective solution to these problems, LASIK might be for you.
What does the laser eye surgery procedure involve?
The LASIK procedure is actually quite simple; the end goal is to reshape your cornea (the clear outer layer at the front of your eye), so that light focuses on your retina in the back of your eye. When light doesn’t focus on your retina the way that it should, your vision gets blurry. (Hence the need for glasses or contact lenses.) LASIK reverses this “refractive error” and almost completely eliminates the need for corrective eyewear.
Prior to your laser eye surgery, you’ll meet with your eye surgeon to discuss what to expect during and after your procedure, and also to do a full eye exam. If you wear contact lenses, you shouldn’t wear them for at least three weeks before your evaluation and at least three days after.
Don’t be scared of the word “laser” in its name — LASIK is essentially pain-free and takes only about 15 minutes. In fact, the surgery only requires topical anesthetic drops — no bandages or stitches required!
First, your LASIK surgeon will create a thin and superficial flap in your cornea with a small surgical tool or laser, so they can access what’s underneath your cornea (the stroma) and remove excess tissue with an ultraviolet light beam.
Removing the tissues reshapes the cornea and allows light to focus more on the retina for improved vision. So whether you’re nearsighted or farsighted, your LASIK surgeon will reshape your cornea to a more normal shape — which also can correct astigmatism.
Once your procedure is complete, the flap made on your eye is laid back in place and covers the area where the tissue was removed. This allows your eye to remain protected and heal properly. Make sure you have someone to drive you home after the surgery, too.
Are there any side effects of LASIK?
As with any surgery, there are a few side effects you should take into consideration before getting LASIK. The first day or two after surgery, you may experience slight discomfort, or experience:
- Seeing halos around images
- Trouble driving at night
- Dry eye
- Scratchy eyes
- Light sensitivity
- Fluctuating vision
But these side effects are rare and will usually go away as you heal.
Are you a candidate for LASIK?
The best way to make sure that you’re a candidate for LASIK laser eye surgery is to schedule a consultation with an in-network LASIK eye surgeon. You’ll be able to discuss the risks, benefits, and results on a more personal level. But generally speaking, these are a few good signs LASIK might be for you:
- You’re over 18. Your eyesight changes more rapidly as you go through puberty. Waiting until you’re 18 can ensure a longer lasting and more effective surgery.
- You have a stable vision prescription. If you’ve been visiting an in-network eye doctor once per year to detect changes in your prescription or signs of other diseases, you can easily tell if your vision has been stable year after year. Slight changes are okay, but if your vision is on a rapid decline, LASIK might not be an effective way to correct your vision problems.
- You’re in good overall health. Though you’re not going under total anesthesia, LASIK is considered a major surgery. It’s best to be in good overall health for the procedure itself and healing process afterward to avoid complications.
- Your prescription is within a certain limit. There’s a chance your prescription might be too strong for LASIK. But for those that fall within LASIK’s range, you could be a great candidate. Speak with your in-network LASIK surgeon to learn their recommended prescription limits.
On the flip side, LASIK isn’t recommended for those:
- Younger than 18
- Pregnant or nursing
- Taking certain medications (especially those that suppress the immune system)
- With dry eye
- That have had a lot of recent changes to their vision prescription
- With a thin or uneven cornea
- With glaucoma
- That have health issues such as diabetes, lupus, or rheumatoid arthritis
Can a vision insurance plan help you save on LASIK?
LASIK is usually categorized as an elective cosmetic surgery, meaning most vision insurance plans won’t cover any expenses associated with the procedure. But if you’re curious about LASIK and how to save, consider a vision insurance plan from Kasasa Care, made possible by a partnership with KindHealth and VSP. VSP is one of the few vision insurance providers with benefits that can reduce your out-of-pocket expenses (an average of 15% off the regular price with most plans!) for LASIK eye surgery if you choose an in-network provider.
Sometimes, providers will offer special discounts on LASIK eye surgery. If you’re not in a rush to correct your vision and would rather get the best possible price, this could be something to look into.
Plus, if you have a health savings account (HSA) or flexible spending account (FSA) with your health insurance plan, you can use these pretax funds to pay for your LASIK eye surgery. That’s right, it’s a qualifying expense! What’s an HSA or FSA, you ask?
HSAs and FSAs let you put money directly from your paycheck tax-free into an account used just for out-of-pocket healthcare costs — like a new pair of eyeglasses, your annual eyecare appointment co-pay, and of course, LASIK. To qualify for an HSA, you must be enrolled in a high-deductible health plan that is HSA-eligible. On the other hand, FSAs are only available as a benefit from an employer.
Keep reading here to learn about other qualifying medical expenses. And if you’re interested in enrolling in a high-deductible health plan to take advantage of the benefits of an HSA, click here to start comparing health plans on Kasasa Care and KindHealth’s digital portal.
LASIK eye surgery is an excellent way to (almost) permanently toss those eyeglasses or contacts and enjoy the world with clear vision. (More than 90% of people achieve 20/20 vision!) It’s a relatively low-lift procedure with long-lasting impacts — and could be something to consider if you’ve worn eyeglasses or contacts for most of your life. Just be sure to check with your vision insurance plan (or get one here) for even more savings, and to schedule a consultation with an in-network eye doctor. A clearer world awaits!