Common questions

  • LASIK at Pacific Cataract and Laser Institute

    • How many cases have you done?

      Our small team of surgeons has performed over 95,000 LASIK procedures. These highly experienced professionals also perform thousands of cataract surgeries and other microsurgical procedures each year.

    • Do you guarantee 20/20 vision?

      Unfortunately, no treatment can guarantee perfect vision. Instead of hoping to forever eliminate your need for corrective eyewear, a more realistic goal is to significantly reduce your dependence. To learn about your approximate chance of achieving 20/20 vision, speak with one of our Refractive Surgery Counselors.

    • Will I require enhancement treatment?

      People with average or moderate degrees of correction can expect a 5-10% chance of needing an enhancement. Those with higher degrees of correction have a higher probability of requiring enhancement treatment. Due to the inherent risks of surgery, and the potential for overcorrection, we generally do not perform enhancements unless vision is 20/30 or worse.

    • What is the cost of enhancement?

      Enhancement treatment is free of charge as long as you are examined annually by an optometric physician.

    • How important is the surgeon’s skill?

      We have learned that accuracy and attention to numerous small details, controlled directly by the surgeon, is the key to achieving excellent LASIK outcomes.

    • Do contact lenses need to be left out before treatment?

      Yes, contacts modify the contour of the cornea and must be left out long enough for your eyes to return to their natural shape. The minimum is 3 weeks for gas permeable contacts, and 7 full days for soft contacts. But your optometric physician will advise you how long to leave them out before your evaluation exam and surgery.

    • Can I have surgery if I am pregnant?

      No, because hormonal changes are known to cause fluctuation in vision. Our advice is to avoid treatment if you expect to become pregnant within 6 months, and then wait at least 3 months after you are no longer pregnant or nursing.

    • Why is follow-up care important?

      To achieve the best possible visual outcome, it is very important that your eye health is carefully examined and your vision closely monitored during your recovery. Examinations are prescribed at key intervals to ensure proper healing and stability of vision.

    • Will you do my follow-up care?

      Our doctors will work in close communication with your family eye doctor to coordinate follow-up care. If your doctor needs us to see you, we’re always available.

    • Does my optometrist have a financial incentive to refer me to you?

      No, we are careful to avoid that. No portion of our treatment fee is shared with referring doctors. Doctors who provide before and after-surgery care establish their own fees. We have also steered clear of shared ownership of our lasers and facilities to prevent any possibility of financial incentives for referrals. The relationship we have with doctors who trust us with their patients has been built by providing years of consistent, excellent care.

  • The Procedure

    • Does LASIK hurt?

      No, your eyes will be numb from the anesthetic eye drops so you will feel minimal if any discomfort. You will feel a pressure sensation for a few seconds while the flap is created, but it does not hurt.

    • How will I keep my eyes from moving?

      Our stabilization system ensures that your eyes are held precisely on target (within 1/100th of an inch) so there is no need to worry.

    • How long does treatment take?

      Although the actual laser time is usually less than a minute for each eye, you will be in the laser suite for 10-15 minutes for both eyes. However, there is some preparation time before surgery when we verify critical eye measurements and review after-surgery instructions. Plan to be in our office for 2-3 hours on the day of treatment.

    • Can my family and friends watch?

      Yes, friends or family are invited to be with you and may view the treatment from our glass-walled observation area. A video camera on the surgeon’s microscope provides a close-up view of the procedure on a TV monitor. One of our staff will accompany your guests and explain the procedure.

  • After LASIK

    • How well will I be able to see right after surgery?

      Many people notice immediate improvement. Sitting up after the procedure, they often can see the time on the clock and details in the room. However, due to thick lubricating drops placed in your eyes, your vision will likely be blurry for several hours.

    • Will my eyes be patched?

      No, but you will be given clear plastic shields to protect your eyes while sleeping the first night.

    • Can I drive myself home?

      No. In addition to having blurry vision, a mild sedative taken before the procedure will make driving unsafe.

    • Will I need to use eye drops?

      Yes, you will be given instructions to use medicated eye drops and moisturizing comfort drops.

    • How long is the visual recovery period?

      Although most people notice significant improvement within the first week of surgery, mild fluctuations in vision can last up to 4 weeks. Achieving your best vision can take up to 3 months.

    • What side effects can I expect?

      In the first few days and weeks, you will likely notice some of these normal side effects:

      • Watery eyes—especially the first 6 hours.
      • Temporary discomfort like an eyelash in your eye—usually for the first 12 to 24 hours. You will be given drops to use for pain, if needed.
      • Fluctuating vision—normal for 2 to 4 weeks as the eye heals.
      • Light sensitivity—usually decreases over the first few weeks, but you may need to wear sunglasses more than usual during that time.
      • Halo effect—around bright lights at night, usually diminishes with time.
    • How long will I be off work?

      We recommend allowing for 1 to 3 days, but many people are able to return to work the next day. If your job involves precise vision, dirty air, or risk to your eyes from flying objects, you may need more time.

  • LASIK Results

    • If I’m corrected for distance vision, will I still be able to see near?

      This depends on your age. As we get older, our eyes slowly lose their ability to focus up close. This is called presbyopia. By age 40, most people require some reading correction. Your optometric physician can best determine if you’ll benefit from reading or computer glasses after surgery. An advantage of being nearsighted is that it may take until age 50 to be affected by presbyopia. But, if you are nearsighted and have successful LASIK, you may need reading glasses in your early 40s, as is normal for most people.

    • If I wear reading glasses now, will I still need them after LASIK?

      Yes, you will likely still need them for near vision after treatment.

    • If I don’t get fully corrected, can I be retreated?

      Usually, but further treatment may be limited by the remaining thickness of your cornea. When your vision has stabilized, your optometric physician can help you determine if enhancement treatment is something to consider. However, due to the inherent risks of surgery and the potential for overcorrection, we generally do not perform enhancements unless your vision is 20/30 or worse.

    • Is LASIK permanent?

      Yes, vision is permanently changed by LASIK. However, there can be some regression, especially with higher amounts of correction. When regression occurs, retreatment is sometimes an option.

    • Will having LASIK interfere with cataract surgery when I’m older?

      No, it won’t interfere with the safety of cataract surgery. But the surgeon will need to know that you had LASIK so he or she can select the correct power for the artificial lens implant.

    • Will I have to wear corrective lenses after surgery?

      We will do all we can to fully correct your vision, but some eyes heal and respond differently. A more realistic goal is to lessen your dependence on corrective lenses. If you still need glasses, they will likely be lighter and thinner, and you will probably be able to function more easily without them.

    • Do you track patient satisfaction?

      Yes, we regularly ask patients to provide feedback on their visual outcomes as well as our customer service. Constant input enables us to fine-tune and maintain our high level of care.

  • LASIK Flap Options

    • What LASIK flap options  do I have?

      We offer two options—a bladed flap and a laser flap. In the bladed option, a precision, automated instrument called a microkeratome separates layers of corneal tissue to create a hinged flap. The procedure usually takes less than 10 seconds. Bladed flaps taper peripherally and become thinner along the edge. With the laser option, a femtosecond laser (different than the excimer laser used to reshape the eye’s surface) evaporates a microscopic layer of tissue within the cornea. In about 20 seconds, millions of interconnected bubbles form a hinged flap. Laser flaps are more square along the edge.

    • Do laser flaps have fewer complications?

      Yes. Although the microkeratomes we use to create bladed flaps have an excellent safety profile, laser flaps are slightly safer in two ways:

      • They have less risk of accidentally being made without a hinge.
      • The squarer edge architecture of laser flaps is tighter and less vulnerable than the tapered edge of bladed flaps to epithelial ingrowth, a complication that occurs when eye surface cells invade the area under the flap.
    • Do laser flaps cost more?

      Yes, there is an additional fee for laser flaps. Femtosecond lasers are very expensive instruments with substantial maintenance costs. Surgeons must also pay a royalty fee to the laser manufacturer for every procedure.

    • Do your doctors prefer laser flaps?

      Yes, our doctors have a slight preference for laser flaps because they are less risky to make and less vulnerable to complications as the eye heals. However, we are supportive of those who wish to have bladed flaps for cost savings and convenience.

    • Are all femtosecond lasers used for LASIK flaps the same?

      No, just as the numbers of pixels in digital cameras have greatly increased, so has the speed (frequency) of some of the newest femtosecond lasers. Faster lasers create smoother incisions. The laser we use has an operating frequency that is more than 300 times faster than the laser used by the majority of LASIK surgeons nationwide.

  • Cost and Payment Options

    • WHAT IS THE COST?

      Our fee for LASIK with a bladed flap is $1500 per eye. If you select our laser flap option, the cost is $1800 per eye.

    • IS THERE A COST FOR MY FAMILY EYE DOCTOR?

      Yes. Your family optometric physician will charge for the important care they provide. Your doctor will evaluate your vision to determine if you are a good candidate, perform numerous before-surgery eye tests and share the results with the surgeon, perform several follow-up exams and monitor key aspects of your vision during your recovery to ensure that you achieve the best possible outcome.

    • WILL INSURANCE COVER THE COST?

      A number of plans provide coverage so check with your employer or insurance provider. Let us know if you have a vision plan that includes a LASIK benefit.

    • WHAT ARE MY PAYMENT OPTIONS?

      We accept cash, checks and all major credit cards including Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express and CareCredit.

    • CAN I MAKE MONTHLY PAYMENTS?

      Yes, flexible monthly payments are available through CareCredit with payments as low as $75 per month. Click here to apply or call CareCredit at 800-365-8295 at least a week before surgery. When asked for the business name or doctor's last name, enter or say Pacific Cataract and Laser Institute.

    • CAN I USE MY FLEX SPENDING ACCOUNT?

      Yes. If your employer offers a Flex Spending Account (FSA) that allows you to have some pre-tax dollars set aside each month from your paycheck to pay for medical expenses not covered by insurance, this is a good time to use it. By not paying taxes on this money, you can substantially increase your spending power. Ask your employer for more details.

  • The Next Step

    • I’M INTERESTED. WHAT’S THE NEXT STEP?

      To get started, talk with your family optometrist or call 800-884-7254 and speak with one of our knowledgeable surgery counselors. Our counselors can answer your questions, review treatment details and send you a package of information. You can also click on "Get Started" in the top right corner of this window to contact a counselor by email.

    • CAN I COME DIRECTLY TO YOU FOR TREATMENT?

      No. Pacific Cataract and Laser Institute is a highly respected referral center and patients are accepted for treatment on the recommendation and referral of family eye doctors. We work closely with over 1700 optometric physicians from Alaska to New Mexico. If you do not have a family optometrist, we can help you find one.

    • WHAT SERVICES WILL MY FAMILY OPTOMETRIST PROVIDE?

      Your family eye doctor will:

      • Evaluate your vision to determine if you are a good candidate
      • Perform numerous before-treatment tests and share the results with the surgeon
      • Perform important follow-up exams at prescribed intervals to ensure proper healing
      • Monitor key aspects of your vision during your recovery to ensure that you achieve the best possible outcome

Multiple doctors over the years said my prescription was just too severe for LASIK. However, Pacific Cataract and Laser Institute performed LASIK on me and now I miraculously see 20/20! Being a dentist I was extremely concerned about the outcome. I couldn’t be happier. The doctors, staff, and facility are top notch!

— Jason from Lake Stevens, WA