Refractive Surgery FAQs

The Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics holds free screenings to determine if you are a candidate for refractive surgery. Please call 866-309-0840 (toll free) or 353-7625 (locally) for a screening appointment. The screenings take from 30 to 45 minutes and you will be asked to bring your most recent glasses prescription.

Am I a good candidate for refractive surgery?

In general, most people who are wearing glasses or contacts for nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism, or glasses for reading may be candidates. Ideal patients should not have a significant increase in their lens prescription in the last year. People with certain medical conditions or women who are pregnant or breastfeeding may not be good candidates.

We offer a free screening in which your most recent glasses' prescription is read and our Refractive Coordinator, Lisa Milder, answers general questions. However, we believe the determination of whether you are a candidate can and should only be made during a comprehensive evaluation by our physicians. This thorough evaluation is commonly covered by insurance as an annual eye exam, and, should you decide not to pursue the procedure or not be a candidate, we can then issue a new prescription for either contacts or glasses.

To schedule this appointment, please contact us at: 319-356-2852 or 800-777-8442, or fill out our appointment form. Please plan on allowing at least two hours for the evaluation and know your eyes will be dilated.

Two hours for an evaluation may sound like a long time but there is a lot of information to cover and, especially when it comes to your eyes, you deserve to have all your questions answered and feel completely comfortable with your decision and plan.

Once you and your LASIK Team determine the laser vision correction plan that best suits you and your life, you are ready to schedule the procedure itself. These are typically done on Tuesday or Friday afternoons and recovery time is variable to both person and type of procedure done, it is typically between one day to one week. You will need to have someone drive you to and from your surgery and should have someone available to assist you, if necessary, for the first 24 hours following. Follow up visits are one day, one week, one month, three months, six months and one year following surgery.

Which procedure is right for me?

PRK, LASIK, or LASEK
Adults (age 18 or older) with healthy eyes, mild to moderate nearsightedness (up to -14.0 diopters), farsightedness (0.50 up to +5.0 diopters) and astigmatism (up to 5.0 diopters)
INTACS
Adults (age 18 or older) with astigmatism or mild nearsightedness (-.75 to -3.00 diopters)
Custom Ablation
Adults (age 18 or older) with nearsightedness (-1.00 up to -6.00 diopters) and astigmatism (up to -3.00 diopters). During the initial evaluation your physician would determine if you would benefit from this procedure.
Pakic IOL
The Verisyse™ Phakic IOL is used to treat myopia (nearsightedness) in adults (age 18 or older) that can be corrected with lenses between -5 and -20 diopters.

What results can I expect?

It is important that you have realistic expectations. Your decision should be based on facts, not hopes or misconceptions. The goal of any refractive surgical procedure is to reduce your dependence on corrective lenses. If you expect better vision without glasses or contacts you will probably be pleased. You may be disappointed if you expect perfect vision without the need of glasses or contacts.

What will I be able to see?

Results at UI Hospitals and Clinics and elsewhere have shown 95 percent of eyes treated improve to 20/40, the legal driving limit in most states and 80 percent improve to 20/20 or normal uncorrected vision. Although dependent on the level of correction needed, results at UI Hospitals and Clinics have patients seeing 20/20 - or better - with both eyes 91 percent of the time.

The healing process during the first week may cause your vision to seem somewhat "blurry." Vision clarity is unique for each person and depends on your rate of healing and the amount of correction performed. You should notice a steady improvement in the weeks that follow.

How will I correct my vision between treatment of the first and second eye?

Generally, most patients choose to have both eyes treated on the same day. However, depending on your healing response and the type of procedure you have, our surgeon may recommend waiting one week to one month between eyes.

You may continue to wear your contact lens on the untreated eye. If you wear glasses, you ay want to have a "plain" lens put into your frames for the treated eye. This is not included in the cost of either procedure.

Are there any side effects?

As with any surgical procedure, there are potential risks including: under or over correction, glare, haloes, night vision problems, loss of best vision, and dry eyes.

Will insurance cover refractive surgery?

PRK, LASEK, LASIK, and INTACS are elective procedures and are not currently covered by Medicare or Medicaid. Check with your carrier for details regarding your individual policy.

Why choose the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics?

Our physicians are ophthalmologists (medical doctors) specializing in both cornea and external disease and refractive surgery. Your LASIK Team physician begins this journey when you do: at your initial evaluation, and continues this personal care for the procedure and follow up visits. You have plenty of choices when it comes to where you can have laser vision correction. We believe the personal and professional commitment of your UIHC LASIK Team is something you just won't see anywhere else.

Our expertise - your confidence