For several years, I’ve had the opportunity to work with one of Hampton Road’s premier refractive surgeons, Dr. Steve Scoper, in the care of many patients. I recently interviewed Dr. Scoper in order to share some very useful information to patients wanting to learn more about Lasik refractive surgery.
Tell us a little about your educational and training background with respect to the cornea and refractive surgery?
My name is Steve Scoper, M.D. and I am the cataract and refractive surgeon at Virginia Eye Consultants in Norfolk, Va. I attended medical school at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, and my ophthalmology residency at Tulane Medical Center in New Orleans, La. Upon completion of my residency, I pursued advanced training through a Fellowship in Cornea, External Disease, and Keratorefractive Surgery at the Dean A. McGee Eye Institute at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.
Is every patient a good candidate for Lasik?
Not every patient is a good candidate for Lasik eye surgery. Therefore, it is important to discuss Lasik with your optometrist who will educate you on the Lasik procedure and tell you if they feel you are potentially a good candidate. If you are a good candidate, they will refer you to our center to receive further testing to determine your candidacy.
How has Lasik refractive surgery changed to benefit patients over the last 10 years?
Lasik surgery is one of the most sought after elective surgery procedures providing patients with an improved quality of vision. In the last ten years, Lasik technology has continuously advanced to address previous post-operative issues such as glare and haloes. At Virginia Eye Consultants, we provide only All-Laser Lasik surgery. We utilize the Intralase technology which creates a precise corneal flap while improving the safety of the procedure. Our Allegretto laser platform provides patients with a customized procedure resulting in excellent quality of vision.
What is a popular misconception about Lasik that you encounter in your practice?
One popular misconception that is often encountered in a Lasik practice would be the need for reading glasses after the surgery. Patients often seek Lasik eye surgery to improve their distance vision and to reduce their dependency on glasses or contact lenses. However after the age of 40, a condition called presbyopia occurs in which our eyes lose their ability to focus on objects up close. When presbyopia occurs, the optometrist can prescribe reading glasses to help address your near vision needs.
Does Lasik surgery hurt during or after the procedure?
Overall, patients are quite comfortable during and after the Lasik surgery procedure. Prior to the surgery, patients are given sedatives to relax them and topical anaesthetics are used during the procedure to control pain. Postoperatively, patients are given antibiotic drops, anti-inflammatory drops, tear substitutes and eye shields to prevent eye rubbing.
How long of a recovery can be expected after Lasik Surgery?
Typically, patients recover quickly after Lasik surgery with many returning to work the very next day with great vision. After the surgery, patients are given post-operative instructions which include what drops are required, how often to use them, and information on what is normal and abnormal after the surgery. The full recovery period takes between 6-12 months after the surgery, followed by yearly comprehensive vision.
What can patients do to help ensure optimal vision following surgery?
To ensure optimal vision, patients need to make sure that they follow all post-operative instructions and examinations to ensure proper healing. The typical post-operative schedule would be one day, one week, one month, three months and six month visits. At each of these visits, your optometrist will monitor your progress and check your vision and ocular surface. If you are in need of a touch-up procedure (enhancement), this is included in the initial cost of your procedure. Approximately 5%-10% of our patients will require an enhancement due to individual healing factors.
If someone is interested in Lasik, what is the next step?
The first step for LASIK surgery will be to see your optometrist who will be able to tell you if they feel that you’re a good candidate for surgery. Optometrists play an integral role with LASIK surgery by providing patient education, setting realistic expectations, pre-operative care and post-operative care. If you are a potential good candidate, your optometrist will refer you to get a Lasik screening. During the screening, patients are educated about the Lasik procedure and told whether or not they are a great candidate.