5 Reasons to Get LASIK This Holiday Season

Have you thought about getting LASIK but you just can’t quite find the time due to your busy schedule? We understand—life gets crazy. With the holiday season approaching fast, there is no better time than now to take those final steps to discover if LASIK may be the right vision correction solution for you.

Here are 20/20 Institute’s top 5 reasons to get LASIK done this holiday season:

  • Celebrate without eyeglasses or contact lenses! Imagine finally being able to enjoy the beautiful Christmas lights and decorations without the hassle of contacts drying up or glasses fogging in the cold weather. We know that the holidays mean extra wine and time by the fire. Both of those things can cause contacts to dry up—so ditch the contacts! Enjoy waking up on Christmas morning and not having to hunt down your glasses or put in contacts…and simply enjoy quality time with family.
  • Extra time off work for the holidays! During the holidays, most of us have extra time off work, and many of us see our friends and families. Make this holiday season the first time you SEE family and friends without the need of contacts or glasses. Even though the recovery time for LASIK is fast, during the holidays, you have extra days off work to adjust to your new eyeballs. This is the perfect time to lounge around the house and watch all the movies or football games you can with your family and friends.
  • HSA and FSA to pay! HSAs and FSAs can help make LASIK more affordable by utilizing pretax dollars to pay for quailed medical expenses. Take advantage of this tax saving benefit if you can. Since LASIK is an elective surgery that is an approved expense for pretax medical spending accounts, there is no better time than NOW to use up that HSA or FSA money. With the end of the year approaching fast, you don’t want to lose your flexible spending account’s hard earned dollars. It’s also a good time to plan for January procedures if you have a new plan starting in 2022. January is a very busy time of year for LASIK because FSAs and HSAs increase the popularity of LASIK right after the new year starts. Put those FSAs and HSAs to good use and get those eyeballs corrected with pretax dollars.
  • Get a head start for the summer! Summer means warm weather and spending lots of time outdoors. If you get your LASIK done this holiday season, you will be able to get rid of contacts and glasses just in time for the summer. This way, you can enjoy all those great Colorado outdoor activities this summer and ever summer after.
  • New Year’s Resolution! We are wrapping up 2021 here shortly, and it’s time to decide on some New Year’s resolutions. Research shows that 95 percent of New Year’s resolutions are fitness related, but after just three months, only 10 percent of people think their resolution will last. Why not have a New Year’s resolution that actually lasts this year? What better way to ring in 2022 than to leave those contacts and glasses in 2021? 

So, what are you waiting for? To schedule your free virtual LASIK consultation, call 20/20 Institute at 303-2020-NOW (669) or let us know to contact you, and one of our experienced LASIK counselors will reach out to find a convenient time to reach you.

Can I Wear Makeup When I Have LASIK?

When considering LASIK to correct your vision, there are many questions that we get asked regularly regarding what to expect and what are the suggested dos and don’ts. Not surprisingly, many questions arise about cosmetics. Specifically, what’s the best advice related to wearing face and eye makeup after having LASIK? 

When you have LASIK, your doctor’s primary areas of concern are inflammation and infection during your healing and recovery period (usually 1-2 weeks). During this time, you will be prescribed prescription eye drops. The vast majority of the time, those drops, if taken correctly, will successfully manage these two areas of healing and recovery. 

General Tips

Makeup, especially old makeup, can harbor bacteria, which can increase risk for infection after a LASIK procedure. So, to minimize that risk, waiting some time before wearing makeup again and/or throwing out old makeup and starting with new makeup after your LASIK procedure, is usually the safest path. That said, if healing and recovery goes well, most patients can return to wearing makeup 48 to 72 hours after the LASIK procedure. 

Day of Surgery

On the day of LASIK surgery, no makeup should be worn. Not only does this include mascara and face makeup, but it also includes any kind of lotion, serum, or perfume. The vapor from these products can interfere with the laser energy and potentially affect the outcome. Keep your face clean and free of any products the day of LASIK surgery. And don’t worry, you’re beautiful without makeup!

Mascara, Face Makeup & Cosmetics

If you do not wear eyelash extensions and typically just wear mascara, we recommend purchasing new mascara and waiting at least 48 to 72 hours after LASIK to apply it again. During that 48 to 72 -hour window, patients should avoid any kind of makeup that can flake off into the eyes. This might include eye shadows, eyebrow pencils, and eyeliners. 

For those who wear waterproof mascara, we recommend that you wait at least two weeks after LASIK to begin wearing waterproof mascara again. As you know, waterproof mascara is a little bit tougher to remove. After your LASIK, you want to be extra careful around your eyes and refrain from any kind of hard rubbing for at least two weeks. 

Any kind of cosmetic eye procedure such as Botox, fillers, facials, and eyebrow waxing should be avoided for at least 4 to 6 weeks after LASIK.

Eyelash Extensions

“Can I have LASIK if I have eyelash extensions?” We get asked this question all the time. Maybe you have been getting eyelash extensions for years, and the thought of having them removed to get LASIK terrifies you. We get it, beauty is important! Luckily, if you have eyelash extensions, we encourage you to keep them on throughout the LASIK process.

The chemical used to remove the eyelash extensions can irritate the eyes, and we don’t want the eyes to become irritated before LASIK. Keep those eyelashes on for your surgery, but keep in mind that your eyelashes will be taped down during the surgery, and some lashes may fall out. 

If you do not have eyelash extensions before LASIK and are considering getting them, we recommend waiting at least 4 to 6 weeks before having them applied. 

Removing Makeup

Once you can begin wearing makeup again, be extra cautious when removing it. A side-to-side motion over a closed upper eyelid puts a patient’s recovery at risk when removing makeup. Instead, use a light downward motion to remove makeup. Do not rub or use aggressive force when removing makeup around the eyes for the first month after the LASIK procedure. Be careful with soaps and makeup remover as well. The more cautious you are around the eyes the better.

Remember, going a few days without your regular makeup regiment is totally worth the life-changing event of LASIK!

If you have other questions about wearing makeup and the LASIK procedure, don’t hesitate to reach out to one of our experienced LASIK counselors for a complimentary consultation at 303-202-0669.

Understanding LASIK and Monovision

LASIK has accomplished some amazing things for peoples’ vision—for example, if you have nearsightedness, farsightedness, and/or astigmatism, LASIK may be able to eliminate or drastically reduce your eyeglass prescription.

These three conditions are what cause most people to have blurry vision, and they’re caused by the shape of the cornea (the clear part on the front of the eye and where a contact lens sits) in relation to the length of the eyeball. 

If the cornea is too steep or too flat (or a combination of both), it won’t focus light properly to the back of the eye where vision is processed. If the cornea doesn’t match the shape or size of the eye, blurry distance vision is likely—it’s like having a camera that’s out of focus…the picture will turn out blurry if the light isn’t properly focused.

What about close up-close vision? As time goes by, why do some people wear “readers” or “bifocal glasses” to see a phone screen, computer monitor, or other things we need to see up close? 

A phenomenon called Presbyopia occurs in everyone, and it starts to show symptoms in the early to mid-40s. There’s a tiny lens inside each eye, right behind the iris (i.e., the colored part of the eye).

When we’re young, this tiny lens is flexible…think of the lens’ flexibility like a dodgeball. When a dodgeball is in your hand, it’s almost perfectly spherical, but if you throw it against a brick wall, the moment it hits the wall it contorts to a flatter shape. These shapes are similar to the shapes of the lens inside your eye.

When you look at something up close, the lens is round and spherical. When you look at something far away, it flattens out. This isn’t something we consciously control. When you pick up your phone to check a message, your brain tells your eye to focus certain muscles which make the lens more rounded, and when you look across the room at the clock on the wall, the muscles relax and the lens flattens out. 

Just like we lose the elasticity in our skin, the lens loses its ability to change its shape over time…it gets stiffer and tends to get stuck in the flatter shape. So, when we’re in our early to mid-40s, and when we look at something up close, the lens isn’t able to change to the rounder shape and magnify what we are trying to look at. This is why putting on “readers” helps with this issue: it magnifies images up close because the lens inside of the eye can no longer do so.

Presbyopia isn’t something that happens overnight…it’s a slow gradual change that can take several decades to fully occur.

Because LASIK is performed on the cornea, it doesn’t fix the issue of presbyopia (as mentioned before, presbyopia occurs in the lens inside of the eye). If you are considering LASIK, this leaves us with a couple of different options in the surgical planning stage:

  1. Correct both eyes for excellent distance vision and wear readers for any up-close tasks; or
  2. Have monovision LASIK and achieve “blended vision” which is functional vision for both distance and up close

More About Monovision…

So, what exactly is monovision? Monovision or “blended vision” is a technique in which LASIK is used to set one eye for far distance vision and one eye for near. 

With both eyes open, your brain blends the distances together so that you can see both far and near. It may sound strange, but it works really well for a majority of patients over the age of 40.

The brain is incredibly adaptable, and over the first few weeks of having the monovision procedure, patients become accustomed to the difference between the eyes, life goes on as usual, and it will lessen or eliminate the need to wear reading glasses for up-close tasks. 

If you’ve worn monovision contacts and enjoyed the experience, you will likely enjoy monovision LASIK!

Plus, if you have monovision LASIK and you feel like it’s not for you, most can return and have the monovision taken away, so that both eyes are clear for distance without glasses. However, most patients age 45 and older will likely require reading glasses for most up-close tasks.

Your first step? If you’re interested in monovision LASIK, or if you have questions about the LASIK procedure, all will be answered during a FREE Virtual LASIK Consultation with us at 20/20 Institute. Plus, at your evaluation, your doctor will even show you what monovision will look and feel like! 

To schedule your free virtual LASIK consultation, call 20/20 Institute at 303-2020-NOW (669) or let us know to contact you, and one of our experienced LASIK counselors will reach out to find a convenient time to reach you.

What To Avoid After Your LASIK Eye Surgery

If you’re thinking about having LASIK, congratulations! The vast majority of our LASIK patients describe it as “life-changing.” You’re choosing to see in a different way, and it will likely mean a reduction, or an elimination of, the need for eyeglasses or contact lenses.  

For most LASIK patients, the thought of being able to just wake up and SEE is almost surreal. What will you do first with your new-found vision?

Continue reading “What To Avoid After Your LASIK Eye Surgery”

Why Is LASIK So Popular During the COVID-19 Pandemic?

This once-in-a-century pandemic has changed our world. Our daily routines have been altered in ways most of us could never have imagined.

When we take time to think about what’s most important to us, health and safety tops the list.

To ensure our health and safety during the pandemic, many changes have happened to work and social protocols: things like working from home, restricted travel, and the need to wear a mask.

Most people are doing what they can to adapt to these changes. But they may also wonder what other things they can do to best manage their lives while coping with all the changes.

Many have chosen to take this ‘timeout’ to proactively consider positive things they can do during these crazy times. In this post, we’ll take a look at how LASIK can fit into a positive, proactive plan to utilize this downtime.

Continue reading “Why Is LASIK So Popular During the COVID-19 Pandemic?”

Why are eyeglasses so expensive?

At 20/20 Institute, we meet patients considering LASIK for many different reasons.  Every person is different, but in general, people simply want the freedom to live the life and lifestyle that they want to live. Many report to us that their glasses and contacts get in the way of living their best lifestyle.  Frequently though, patients also take into account the rather expensive and guaranteed continued cost of their eyeglasses.

Good vision is important, but have you ever wondered why eyeglasses and sunglasses cost so much?  A lot of people do. The frames appear to be made of mostly plastic and metal, but a new pair of glasses can hit your wallet harder than a new tablet or smart phone.

It seems that they are getting even more expensive too.  In 1986, the year Top Gun came out, you could buy a pair of Ray-Ban® aviators (like the ones Tom Cruise wore) for under $30. Today, a pair of Ray-Bans can cost you upwards of $150!

So why are glasses so expensive?  Let’s explore the possibilities…

One reason: the manufacturing and materials used to create eyeglasses. It’s true that frames and lenses are manufactured better today than they were 30 years ago.  Additionally, when it comes to lenses for those frames, there are many upgrade options that promise (and often deliver) a better experience.

But is the improved quality really that much more expensive to produce?  Does “excellent quality” justify why a pair of off-the-shelf frames with prescription lenses can cost $400, $600, $800 or more?  Even if the quality is really that much better, today’s manufacturing capabilities should be able to improve quality and reduce manufacturing costs, right?

Whether by design or necessity (or both) glasses and sunglasses have absolutely become an accessory in addition to being simply a functional device.  They used to be called “spectacles,” but not anymore.  Now, the preferred term among manufacturers and retail stores is “eyewear.”  Doesn’t eyewear sound SO much better and in fashion than spectacles?!

The fashion component of the frames that surround eyeglasses and sunglasses is another reason eyewear costs are high. The more frequently certain frames are worn by famous musicians and Hollywood stars, the more they are “worth,” right?

So, why is eyewear so expensive?

Improved design, structure, materials, manufacturer expertise, and the “fashion factor” may not be the whole story. The entire answer is more complex. One of the lesser-known realities of the eyeglasses industry is that it is less of a “free market” than most people realize.

While you may not have heard of a company named EssilorLuxottica, you will absolutely recognize at least a few of these frames and prescription brand names that this company owns the licensing or trademark rights to:

Ray-Ban Oakley Prada  
Chanel Transitions Crizal  
Coach Michael Kors DKNY Armani Tiffany Varilux  

EssilorLuxottica manufactures the frames and lenses for all of these brands and many, many more.  So when you browse for your new pair of glasses (or even sunglasses) and notice the range of cost from the value brand to the luxury brand, chances are good that no matter what you end up choosing, you are buying a EssilorLuxottica frame and lenses.

In addition to manufacturing the frames and lenses for a remarkably long list of brands, EssilorLuxottica also owns a few optical stores that you probably know: LensCrafters, Pearle Vision, Target Optical, Sunglass Hut, to name but a few.

The second largest vision insurance company in the U.S., EyeMed, is also a EssilorLuxottica company.

In a free market, various companies and their brands compete for your business, but often in the eyewear market, perceived brand competition is a facade.  It’s a great business position for the manufacturer, of course.  For the consumer, though, not so much.

One significant reason that eyeglasses cost so much is because EssilorLuxottica can essentially set its price without the true forces of free market competition to balance the scales.

“Finally … two products which are naturally complementary – namely frames and lenses -will be designed, manufactured and distributed under the same roof,”

-Luxottica’s founder Leonardo Del Vecchio January 9, 2017

A good pair of sunglasses is very nice, and most eye doctors will tell you that you should wear good UV protection when outside.  But most people will also agree that it’s nice to not HAVE to wear prescription eyeglasses and sunglasses every waking minute.

Patients from all around Colorado and beyond seek out LASIK at 20/20 Institute to be able to enjoy freedom from a frame and prescription lenses.  If you’re a good candidate, freedom from the eyewear industry might be appealing, but not nearly as rewarding as simply being able to wake up and see without glasses!

The most important first step to have LASIK at the 20/20 Institute is to find out if you’re a good candidate or not.  To schedule a free consultation, request us to contact you or give us a call at 303.202.0669, and one of our attentive vision counselors will assist you with finding a convenient time to discover your options toward visual freedom.

Traveling After LASIK Surgery

Let’s face it, one of the most common reasons people have LASIK is to free themselves of the daily hassles of their dependency on their eyeglasses and/or contact lenses. Put another way, they are trying to gain visual freedom for themselves.

LASIK is very good at giving patients visual freedom. Worldwide, the vast majority of patients that have LASIK no longer need their eyeglasses or contact lenses at all.

However, for some older patients, reading glasses will be required for some activities depending on which vision correction strategy you and your doctor decided on. At 20/20 Institute, 99 percent of the patients that have LASIK with us achieve 20/20 or better vision after their procedure.*

Once a patient achieves their visual freedom, they are motivated to do more of the things in life they may have felt their glasses and contacts held them back from doing. We have heard from our patients about the many exciting things that are more enjoyable after having LASIK. Swimming, biking, jogging, hiking, working out, showering and, believe it or not, even working on their computer at work has made the list of improved activities post LASIK.

Perhaps one of the most common motivations for having LASIK is an exciting upcoming vacation. Many times in LASIK consultations at our offices, patients will say the reason they are looking into LASIK at this particular time is that they have a big trip planned and they do not want glasses and contacts lenses with them along for the ride.

One of the main advantages of LASIK is that it is very patient friendly and requires very little downtime for the patient to recover. So, if you have a big vacation or trip upcoming and you’d like to plan accordingly to safely fit LASIK into the timing of that trip, here is what you should keep in mind.

For the average patient, a routine LASIK procedure goes something like this.  After an initial hour or so consultation with the doctor to determine one’s LASIK candidacy, a patient can schedule their LASIK procedure as soon as the next day, if they are deemed a good candidate for LASIK and if the surgery schedule permits and contact lenses have been out long enough to help ensure a safe and accurate LASIK outcome (usually one to two weeks depending on the lenses and the patients’ wearing schedule).

LASIK is performed in our in-office procedure suite. There is no need to go to a hospital or an outpatient surgery center.

The day of the LASIK procedure, we ask that the patient bring someone to drive them home. Although LASIK only takes five to seven minutes per eye to perform, considering the prep and recovery time, the patient is only at the office one and a half hours on their procedure day.

Recovery time is fast with LASIK. Most patients return home to take a four or five hour nap (usually with some assistance from a medication the doctor prescribed). When the patient returns to the office the next morning, they are usually seeing 20/20 or better without glasses. Some eyeglass prescriptions take a little longer to achieve their best corrected vision. However, almost all patients see well enough without glasses to legally pass a driver’s vision test the next morning.

“Well, doctor, now that I can see 20/20 or better so quickly, am I fine to travel?”

The answer is it depends. Recovery from LASIK is different from totally healed. It is true that even the next day following a LASIK procedure it is possible for patients to travel. Over the years, although not advisable, we have had many patients leave for Las Vegas the next day.

There are some important things to consider before booking your post-LASIK travel.

The eye doctors will ask you to take medicated eye drops for about one week. Most importantly, the corneal flap, an important part of the LASIK procedure, takes one to two weeks to heal. During that time, several restrictions are advised. No swimming and no eye rubbing are strongly recommended. It’s true that you can travel and avoid swimming and eye rubbing, however if a complication occurs during healing its advisable to be close to Denver.

 If a patient is traveling and they will be in, or near, a metropolitan area that has many experienced LASIK providers, then traveling is not as concerning as a two week vacation to Bora Bora.

The other consideration in planning travel around LASIK is the postoperative appointments that we typically occur in our local office. We generally ask our patients to return to our office three times in the first six weeks after LASIK. One day after LASIK, then three to seven days, and once more at four to six weeks after the LASIK procedures. A patients’ travel schedule should try and work around these follow up times.

In summary, the best post-LASIK travel schedule looks something like this: a patient sticks around Denver for four to seven days after their procedure (10 days to two weeks if they are traveling to a remote location in the world) and then the patient returns to Denver before their four to six week follow up at 20/20 Institute. If a patient adheres to these guidelines, then travel should be fine. Happy trails!

What’s the difference between LASIK and PRK?

If you are tired of your glasses and contact lenses and just want to be able to wake up and see, you are likely aware of the very popular LASIK procedure, but what about its “cousin” procedure, PRK?

One of the more common questions that patients have for the laser vision correction specialist doctors at 20/20 Institute is about the differences between LASIK and PRK.  Our doctors routinely perform both procedures with excellent results and understand that what each patient really wants to know is which procedure would be the best for them.

So, we will use this blog post to discuss the two procedures so that when you visit 20/20 Institute for your complimentary consultation, you’ll have a great background of understanding to help the discussion with our doctors about what is best for you!

Why Would a Doctor Recommend PRK Instead of LASIK?

Most patients looking into laser vision correction know someone that has had LASIK. However, finding a friend or family member that has had PRK is usually not so easy.

When patients go to their LASIK consultation, they are hoping to find out if they are or are not a candidate for LASIK. Sometimes the doctor throws a curveball in the consultation process by telling the patient that he or she is best suited for PRK instead of LASIK.

Different anatomical attributes of a patient’s corneas may make them better suited for PRK over LASIK. Things like corneal thickness (or thinness), corneal curvature, and corneal scarring all may play a role in the recommendation of PRK over LASIK.

What is a patient to do next if the doctor recommends PRK? For all patients, it’s always best to be an informed patient. So, this blog post will hopefully provide you with the information that you need to make an informed decision about your laser vision correction procedure.

How Are LASIK and PRK Similar?

Most eye care professionals agree that LASIK and PRK are both considered safe and effective laser vision correction procedures provided, of course, that the patient is a good candidate.

Both procedures use an excimer laser to correct vision, and because they have a similar method of achieving improved vision without glasses or contacts, the final visual result for patients tends to be very similar.

In the majority of cases, the excimer laser technology that your surgeon chooses to use for your procedure has the greatest impact on your probability of achieving 20/20 vision and the quality of that visual result than whether the correction is done with the PRK procedure versus the LASIK procedure.

LASIK and PRK tend to have similar visual outcomes because they both treat a patient’s blurry vision by reshaping the cornea using the cool energy of an excimer laser.  The cornea is the structure in front of the iris that is responsible for most of the focusing ability of the eye (it’s the part of the eye where a contact lens is placed).

For the purposes of this article, we will simplify things a bit to say that a person wears glasses or contact lenses due to a mismatch between the length of the eye and the shape of the lenses of the eye, primarily the cornea.

If the cornea is the wrong shape for the patient’s visual system, the patient has blurry vision.  The excimer laser essentially vaporizes microscopic amounts of tissue in a precise, customized pattern to sculpt the cornea and change its shape to improve the patient’s vision.

A basic understanding of the makeup of the cornea will be helpful to understand more about how LASIK and PRK work.  First, the cornea has five layers.  The main layer, called the stroma, is the middle layer of the cornea, comprises 90 percent of the cornea’s thickness, and is made of collagen tissue fibers arranged in a way that makes the cornea translucent and a high refractive index – both important characteristics of a focusing lens.  The outermost layer of the cornea is a layer of translucent epithelium tissue (skin) to protect the cornea from the environment.

Just like the skin tissue on other parts of the body, the epithelial layer of the cornea grows back if it is damaged or removed; however, the collagen tissue that makes up the stroma does not.

In both the LASIK and PRK procedures, the excimer laser sculpts the stroma layer of the cornea, resulting in a permanent change to the shape of the cornea.  When the shape of the cornea is changed properly, the light that enters the patient’s eye is focused more properly for improved vision and without glasses or contact lenses.

How Do LASIK and PRK Differ?

While LASIK and PRK tend to have comparable final visual outcomes, they are performed differently, which gives each procedure its own set of advantages and disadvantages in comparison to the other.

In certain cases, a patient may be only a candidate for LASIK or only a candidate for PRK.  In other situations, the patient can be a candidate for both procedures and may choose which procedure they would prefer.

The difference between the procedures is the way that the laser vision correction surgeon accesses the cornea to reshape it with the excimer laser.  The epithelium (skin) tissue that covers the cornea must be removed or temporarily moved out of the way before the excimer laser’s energy is applied to the cornea so that the excimer laser sculpts the layer of the cornea that does not grow back.  The method that removes this skin tissue in the first step is called PRK, and the method that temporarily moves it out of the way is called LASIK.

LASIK Procedure Explained

In the LASIK procedure, the surgeon fashions what is known as a LASIK “flap” or “cap” using a specialized surgical instrument to temporarily move the epithelial layer out of the way.  The LASIK flap contains the epithelial layer and a thin portion of the stromal layer, and the flap remains attached to the rest of the cornea.

The surgeon lifts this flap and folds it out of the way to expose the lower layer of the cornea to be sculpted with the excimer laser.  After the reshaping is complete, the surgeon repositions the flap in its original position and the healing process begins.

Modern LASIK uses a femtosecond laser to separate tissue for the flap creation while early methods of LASIK used a mechanical device that contained a blade to cut the cornea to create the flap.

The bladeless (laser) method eliminates all of the possible side-effects and complications that are associated with creating the flap with a bladed surgical instrument. All LASIK procedures performed at 20/20 Institute are performed the modern way (with a laser) to create the flap.

During the flap creation step of the LASIK procedure, the patient experiences pressure on the eye (numbed with anesthetizing eye drops) and dim or dull vision for about 45 seconds.  This is usually the most uncomfortable part of the five-minute-per-eye LASIK procedure.

When the procedure is complete, the patient can see, although, most patients say it looks as though they have their eyes open underwater – it is a rather foggy view of the world, but often dramatically better than the blurry world the patient had without glasses before.

Visual recovery is, generally, very rapid, and most patients experience little to no discomfort during the initial healing time.  Most patients have 20/20 or better vision without glasses or contacts by the morning after their procedure.

Usually, the worst part of post-op LASIK recovery is approximately three hours of intense irritation or burning – like it feels if you have your eyes open in a chlorine pool too long.  Most patients fall asleep shortly after departing our office or arriving home, thanks to a little sedative pill given prior to the procedure. Most patients sleep right through any irritation and wake up feeling pretty comfortable.

For most patients, irritations that feel similar to having an eyelash in the eye are the only sensations felt after sleep. Artificial tears are all that is needed to make those sensations go away, and they are typically resolved on their own within three or four days after LASIK.

PRK Procedure Explained

With the PRK procedure, no flap is created.  Instead, the surgeon gently removes the epithelial tissue layer of the cornea and then applies the excimer laser to the exposed cornea for the reshaping step.  When reshaping with the excimer laser is complete, a contact lens “bandage” (a contact lens with essentially no prescription power) is placed over the cornea to allow the skin to grow back underneath.

During the PRK procedure, the removal of the epithelial layer is rather quick, taking less than 30 seconds typically.  Surgeons vary in technique on removal, but regardless of the technique used, the patient may experience a small amount of pressure on the eye and dim vision when the surgeon gets in the way of their vision.

The reshaping step is next and usually takes less than 30 seconds as well.  When the reshaping is complete, the patient receives the contact lens bandage and a few eye drops.  After the procedure is completed, the patient can see fairly well, often dramatically better than before the procedure without glasses.  That vision is short-lived, however, as vision tends to get worse before it improves following the PRK procedure.

Healing and visual recovery after PRK takes longer than LASIK because the epithelial tissue has to heal and become as regular and smooth as it was before removal.  Full visual recovery typically takes about thirty days and has three general stages: initial healing, bandage contact lens removal, and full healing.

The patient wears the contact lens bandage for approximately four to five days as the epithelial tissue undergoes the initial healing phase and seals the surface from where it was removed.

During this time, the patient’s vision is often fairly blurry and relatively high amounts of discomfort and light sensitivity are common.  20/20 Institute doctors will prescribe a few medicines that significantly help with discomfort, which usually lasts about three or four days, improving slightly day after day.  Most patients are not comfortable driving a car during this time, so planning for work and life is an important part of PRK recovery.

When the epithelial tissue has healed, the doctor removes the contact lens at a follow-up appointment about four or five days after the procedure.  When the contact lens is removed, the patient is typical through the worst part of the recovery period.

Each patient is different, but vision typically improves noticeably with the removal of the contact lens, and the patient’s vision tends to be rather functional at this stage.

In the last phase of recovery, the patient experiences gradual vision improvement day after day.  Patients continue to use a medicated drop during this time. A few more follow up visits with our doctors are also required to monitor the healing process.

At follow-up visits, the doctor will adjust the dosage of the medicated drop to control the healing of the epithelial tissue and to help ensure that it heals properly.  Since the epithelial tissue of the cornea regenerates itself naturally every thirty days, it is typically around the 30-day mark after PRK that the patient has achieved the majority of their final visual result.

Pros and Cons

As you have likely gathered so far, the advantages of LASIK over PRK include a significantly faster visual recovery and, comparatively, little or no discomfort during the healing phase.

These advantages are directly tied to the LASIK flap that allows the epithelium to be temporarily moved out of the way and replaced, so the patient essentially uses their own tissue as a natural bandage over the treated area.

Most patients have busy lives and appreciate getting back to life much sooner, so LASIK tends to be the more popular procedure of the two.

While LASIK’s advantages are the result of the LASIK flap, PRK’s advantages are actually the result of not having a flap.  In spite of the longer, more challenging visual recovery after PRK, for certain patients, PRK is the patient’s preference, and in other cases, PRK is the better procedure from a medical perspective to treat their vision.

While complications with the LASIK flap are very rare, especially when using modern bladeless technology, they are eliminated completely with PRK, so some patients choose to have PRK.

For patients such as MMA fighters who accept a high risk of direct trauma to their eyes due to their profession, PRK is recommended.

Also, because the PRK procedure does not involve a flap, PRK patients tend to have less dry eye after their procedure than LASIK patients.  Most commonly though, patients have PRK instead of LASIK because the PRK procedure requires less corneal tissue thickness compared to LASIK, which is of significant consideration for patients with naturally thinner corneas, higher amounts of nearsightedness, or both.

Which Procedure Is Best for You?

The first and most important step of exploring the possibility of getting rid of your glasses and contacts is to visit one of our two Denver-area locations for a free consultation. Our LASIK specialist doctors will evaluate your eyes to see if you are a good candidate for one or both procedures.

You may be a candidate for only one or the other, and if that is the case, our doctors will make sure to carefully explain their recommendation.  Most people who are candidates for vision correction are usually able to choose which procedure they would prefer. Most people’s choice, including most laser vision correction surgeons, is LASIK.

So, now, with this overview of LASIK and PRK fresh in your mind, give us a call at 303-202-0669 or contact us online. We will help find a convenient time for you to come to visit our office at no cost.

In fact, if you have your vision corrected with us, whether it is LASIK or PRK, our doctors are so confident in their ability to get you to 20/20 vision that we will stand behind your results with our exclusive 20/20 or It’s Free Guarantee.

How to Make LASIK More Affordable

If you wear glasses or contacts to see and are reading this blog, it’s safe to assume you’re considering a change.

Maybe you have reached the “end of your rope” with the hassle of contacts or glasses. Or you’ve done the math and the lifetime cost of glasses and contacts outweighs the cost of LASIK.

The up-front cost of LASIK is something to consider regardless of your reasons. This article addresses LASIK’s cost and helps fit the investment into your budget.

Get LASIK This Spring with Your Tax Refund From Uncle Sam

People use their tax refund for many reasons, vacations, big-screen TVs, paying down debt. Paying for LASIK is another very popular use of a person’s tax refund from the government. It’s one of the few purchases that a person can make that they know will be with them for the remainder of their life.

So, from a return on investment (ROI) perspective, it is one of the best ways to spend your tax refund. It is also very realistic to think that having LASIK will save you thousands of dollars over the years on expensive eyeglasses and contact lens costs. Invest in yourself this spring; consider using your tax refund to buy yourself the freedom of eliminating or reducing your dependency on glasses and contact lens in the future.

Can You Use FSA or HSA For LASIK?

LASIK qualifies as an expense you can pay with a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) or Health Savings Account (HSA). These tax-advantaged insurance programs are an excellent way to save money on LASIK.

IN an FSA or HSA accounts, an employee deposits a specific amount in their account before deducting taxes.

For example, if your paycheck is taxed at 30 percent, putting $1 in a FSA or HSA is the same as depositing 70 cents in a savings account after taxes.

Both FSAs and HSAs have limits to how much money you can deposit per year. Your employer may offer these kinds of accounts. Discuss your options with them to learn how your plan works and its limitations.

How Much Can I Save On LASIK By Using Pre-Tax FSA or HSA Dollars?

How much any person can save on LASIK using FSA or HSA accounts depends on their particular tax bracket.

We provide an example below, however, it’s important to know that each person’s tax situation is different, and it’s always best to speak to your tax advisor for the specifics on what savings you could realize from purchasing LASIK with your FSA or HSA account.

FSA or HSA Savings Example

In the US, regardless of your eyeglass prescription, the average person pays in the range of $3-4,000 for LASIK. Medical services are not taxable events to the patient, so the fees that you pay to your LASIK provider should NOT have sales tax applied.

We will use $3,500 as a typical cost of LASIK.  If the patient in this example has an effective federal tax rate of 25 percent and a Colorado state tax of 5 percent, this fictitious patient would save 30 percent on LASIK.

Conversely, without an FSA or HSA account, this patient would need approximately $5,000 of income to pay for $3,500 of LASIK with post-tax dollars. With pre-tax dollars, they only would need to use $3,500 of their FSA or HSA dollars to purchase LASIK. The total savings to this patient has a net effect of $1,500.

Of note, FSA and HSA accounts have rules and limits. For some plans, not all of the monies needed to pay for LASIK can be used from an FSA or HSA account. It’s best to check with the HR representative at your employer for the details.

How FSAs Work

An FSA is a savings plan that lets you pay for some health care expenses for you or eligible dependents.

FSA plans have a start and end date. Before the start date, the employee elects the amount of money to contribute to the plan over the Plan Year. The total amount is deducted in equal portions from the employee’s paycheck before taxes.

But FSA plans have a downside. With an FSA plan, you have to “use it or lose it.” You can use the full amount any time during the plan’s year. But you lose any money left in the account after the year’s expiration date.

How HSAs Work

An HSA is like an FSA account. The employee decides how much money to deposit tax-free and can be used for qualified health care expenses.

Unlike an FSA account, money in an HSA accumulates year-over-year. And the employee may only spend (or be reimbursed for) expenses at or below the amount of money in the account.

Financing Plans For LASIK

There are several financing options for LASIK patients wanting to spread out the cost of LASIK. Zero-percent interest payment plans are the most popular.

These plans already exist with things like home improvement loans and furniture purchases. They can be very helpful and often financially savvy ways to pay for LASIK too.

Zero-percent payment plans are also called deferred interest with payment plans. These plans have specific rules the borrower must follow if they don’t want to pay any interest.

To avoid interest, the borrower makes on-time payments and pays off the loan within a certain amount of time. When that happens, the bank forgives any accrued interest on the loan. If that doesn’t happen, the bank may make the borrower pay the interest at a high rate.

This is a very helpful tool but should be used prudently to avoid paying any interest. If you use a zero-percent payment plan for LASIK, setting up automatic payments to avoid paying interest.

These plans can be an awesome way to make the budget work out. Many times LASIK can work out to be less than your daily trip to Starbucks.

Vision Insurance for LASIK

Vision insurance can reduce LASIK’s cost by a certain percentage depending on the particular plan.

If your insurance has LASIK coverage, it may say it’s only available to certain providers. But 20/20 Institute is happy to honor ALL vision insurance discount plans. Give us a call for the specifics.

“On Sale” LASIK

Many LASIK providers use pricing strategies to attract patients looking to save money on the procedure. If you search online or pay attention to ads, you’ll see several Denver providers offering discounts for a limited time. Ads like “$1,000 OFF LASIK.”

But most patients don’t notice that “limited time” offers tend to be renewed each month. In many cases, these providers mark up their services just to provide the illusion of a “dollars off” savings. Retailers have been scrutinized for using similar perpetual sale pricing strategies.

It’s understandable to want a good deal on anything we buy. The reality is that the fee for modern LASIK costs around $1,500-$2,000 per eye after their “discounts.” And LASIK that uses older technology can cost around $1,300 to $1,500 per eye.

Low-Cost LASIK Watch-Outs

When you’re considering LASIK, it’s important to know the facts so you can make the right decision.

“Bait -n-Switch” tactics are advertised frequently in Denver. We all see ads for LASIK “Starting at $250 per eye.” The reality is that almost no patients qualify for this low teaser fee.

In most cases, these providers have final fees that fall right in line with the national average of $3,-4,000 per eye once you get into their facilities. It’s a classic bait-n-switch. In our opinion, there is no place for that type of deception in the delivery of medical services.

Very few premium LASIK specialists use those older, low-cost LASIK techniques on their patients. While older LASIK technologies and methods are FDA approved, the LASIK procedure has advanced over the last 20 years. Advanced LASIK procedures are safer, offer a better chance of 20/20 vision, and lower the issues related to night vision after LASIK.

So, patients must understand the risks with older technology before proceeding with discount LASIK. There is no “right or wrong” per se, just what is right for each person. The important thing is that you are able to make an informed decision.

If you want the best for your eyes, find out how many other LASIK providers are using comparable technology. LASIK doctors will typically share why they use a particular technology or technique. It’s a good idea to find out if a doctor or LASIK provider uses technology that isn’t used elsewhere.

Call (303) 202-0669 to learn if you are a LASIK candidate or chat with an experienced vision correction counselor and get your questions answered. Or contact us online and we will reach out to you!

How Technology Affects LASIK Procedures

There is no doubt that we live in the technology age. Almost every minute of everyday technology has changed the way we live our daily lives.

The Internet and smartphones have changed our world. More and more people are shopping online instead of brick and mortar stores. Most people use GPS driven navigational apps instead of paper maps to find their way around town. Some use rideshare services instead of taking taxis or driving their own cars. Over the years medical treatments have evolved right along with all of these other technological advancements.

Some of the doctors at 20/20 Institute have been involved in the field of Refractive Surgery (which is the specialty in Ophthalmology that helps patients surgically reduce or eliminate their need for eyeglasses and/or contact lenses) for over 25 years. In that period of time, they have seen some significant advancements in Refractive Surgery technology.

These advancements made a significant impact on the safety and efficacy of vision correction surgery. Sparing you the long overview of every advancement in the field, this article focuses on what differences exist today that a patient should be aware of when making the decisions about having LASIK.

There are several key technology areas a patient should be aware of when seeking a LASIK provider and how that provider’s Refractive Surgery technologies can have an impact on the accuracy of the patient’s visual outcome, in addition to the effect on the short- and long-term safety and stability of the patient’s vision.

Technology and LASIK Candidacy

The first area where technology plays a role is in providing data that assists the doctor in determining a patient’s candidacy for Refractive Surgery.  In addition to assisting with determining candidacy for a patient, the diagnostic technology also helps the doctor recommend which procedure would likely be the best short- and long-term option for that patient.

Not all LASIK centers use the same diagnostic equipment. For LASIK, the analysis of the cornea is most important. Most LASIK doctors tend to agree that the Pentacam by Oculus is the gold standard for the assessment of the cornea and the anterior chamber of the eye prior to the consideration of any surgery on the front part of the eye.

The Pentacam itself utilizes different software programs that report the Pentacam data. The Belin/Ambrosio Enhanced Ectasia software package is optional with the Pentacam, not all LASIK providers have this technology.

This software is one of the most significant advancements to assist the doctor preoperatively in determining candidacy and predicting the long-term stability of the cornea. It’s a good idea to be sure that the LASIK Provider that you are considering uses the Pentacam with the Belin/Ambrosio Enhanced Ectasia software package for all LASIK Evaluations.

From Blades to Lasers

The second area of technological advancement in LASIK is how the first step of LASIK (corneal flap creation) is performed. In the early days of LASIK, the corneal flap was created by using an automated device called a microkeratome that utilized a blade to cut the patient’s cornea to make the flap.

Today’s modern microkeratomes use a femtosecond laser to fashion the corneal flap, no blades are involved. Almost all LASIK doctors agree that using a laser to create the corneal flap is more precise and safer than using the blade to cut the flap. Patients should seek out providers that use this most advanced form of corneal flap technology.

Shorter Treatments, Quicker Recovery

The last area and likely the most important area of advanced technology for LASIK is the excimer laser technology that will be used to reshape the patient’s cornea, or in essence, take away the patient’s eyeglass prescription. This is where most of the action is when determining several aspects of the patient’s post-operative visual outcome.

 Just as smartphone technology has dramatically advanced over the last 20 years, so has the technology that is used with the most modern excimer lasers. There are many advantages to the advancements in today’s excimer lasers.

Today’s lasers have better eye tracking than years past. This ensures that the laser treatments are placed where the surgeon intends. Patients no longer have to worry about keeping their eye still during their treatment.

Faster lasers produce much shorter treatment times.  This leads to quicker recovery times; now it is quite common that patients can achieve 20/20 or better vision the very next morning after LASIK.

Advanced lasers have enhanced laser beam size, placement and energy. This also tends to produce visual results that have improved night vision for patients after LASIK. Furthermore, today’s modern excimer lasers produce much higher rates of 20/20 or better vision post operatively than their earlier predecessors.

Contact 20/20 Institute

At 20/20 Institute, 99 percent of all of our LASIK eyes in 2018 achieved 20/20 or better vision. That level of success was unheard of 10-15 years ago.

If you are considering LASIK, it would be wise to know the specific technologies that your potential LASIK provider will be using for everything LASIK related, from your evaluation to your actual treatment.

At 20/20 Institute we would be happy to chat with you over the phone or at one of our complimentary LASIK consultations to discuss the specifics of our LASIK technology.