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What is LASIK?

LASIK is a surgical procedure that can allow you to experience greater visual freedom and reduced dependency on visual aids like glasses and contact lenses. LASIK can correct refractive errors, like nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism, by reshaping tissue in the cornea, which is the clear covering of the front of the eye. 

LASIK is just one method of refractive vision correction, and its long-term results have proven to be very stable. At VisionFirst Eye Center, we are proud to be the premier provider of LASIK surgery for the Birmingham, Alabama, area.

LASIK in Birmingham

LASIK, a revolutionary vision correction procedure, has allowed countless individuals to experience greater visual freedom. At VisionFirst Eye Center, we are proud to offer this life-changing procedure, allowing you to enjoy the world with impeccable clarity and reduce your dependence on glasses and contact lenses.

How Does LASIK Work?

LASIK works by reshaping the cornea, the transparent front surface of the eye. The cornea plays a crucial role in focusing light onto the retina, allowing you to see clearly.

When your cornea has imperfections in its shape, or your eye is too short or too long, it can lead to vision issues called refractive errors. LASIK corrects these imperfections, improving your vision and allowing you to experience reduced dependence on visual aids like contact lenses and glasses.

How Do I Get LASIK?

The process to get LASIK is relatively straightforward but requires many necessary steps to ensure the procedure is safe and effective. Here are the steps to getting LASIK:

LASIK Consultation

Before undergoing LASIK, you’ll need to have a LASIK consultation with your eye doctor at VisionFirst in Birmingham, Alabama, to ensure you are a good candidate for the procedure. This will be a full examination, including a comprehensive evaluation of your eyes and your vision goals.

During this consultation, your eye doctor will measure your vision, glasses prescription, and corneal thickness, as well as address any questions or concerns you may have. They will also ensure your eyes are healthy and free from any eye conditions that could complicate your recovery from the procedure.

Your eye doctor will also want to know about your vision goals and lifestyle to determine if LASIK is the right option for you. This assessment helps your eye doctor determine whether you are a suitable candidate for laser vision correction.

Determining that you are a good candidate for LASIK ensures that the procedure is more likely to be safe and effective. If your eye doctor confirms that you are a good candidate for the procedure, you will be able to schedule your LASIK surgery date.

The LASIK Procedure

Once you’re fully prepared, the LASIK procedure itself is a quick and easy process. Your skilled LASIK surgeon will start by numbing the front surface of your eyes with anesthetic eye drops to ensure you are comfortable during the procedure.

Chart Illustrating the LASIK Eye Surgery Process

Then, they will create a thin flap on the cornea’s surface, which will be placed out of the way to reveal the inner layers of the cornea. Next, your LASIK surgeon will gently reshape the underlying tissue using a laser.

Once this is complete, then reposition the flap for healing without stitches. This precise reshaping of the cornea corrects refractive errors, allowing light to focus properly on the retina.

Recovery and Follow-Up

Most LASIK patients experience improved vision within hours or days after the procedure. However, in some cases, vision stabilizes over a few weeks.

Your eye doctor will provide you with a list of instructions to follow to aid in your recovery. It is important to follow these instructions carefully.

You may also need to use prescription eye drops for a few weeks to reduce the chances of complications. VisionFirst Eye Center provides thorough post-operative care to ensure your eyes heal correctly and that you achieve the best results possible.

You will need to visit your eye doctor for a few follow-up visits. During these visits, your eye doctor will test your vision and ensure your eyes are healing well.

Check out our YouTube playlist to see the most recent patient LASIK journeys. 

How Do I Know if LASIK is Right For Me?

Determining whether LASIK is right for you begins with the initial screening and comprehensive examination at VisionFirst Eye Center. Our team of experienced LASIK surgeons will assess your eye health and refractive errors to make an informed recommendation.

If LASIK is suitable for your vision needs, you can look forward to a life without the hassle of glasses or contact lenses.

LASIK Self-Test

Can I Afford LASIK?

We understand that affordability is a concern for many individuals considering LASIK. At VisionFirst Eye Center, we offer financing options through CareCredit, which provides extended payment plans to fit virtually any budget. Additionally, we accept Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) and Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) to help you cover the cost of LASIK.

It’s worth noting that laser vision correction is considered a cosmetic elective procedure and is typically not covered by insurance companies. However, we are committed to making LASIK accessible, and we may have discounts available based on your vision insurance or occupation. Be sure to inquire about the various payment options during your consultation.

Don’t let vision problems hold you back from enjoying a clearer, more vibrant life. LASIK at VisionFirst Eye Center offers a life-changing solution to help you see the world with newfound clarity. Schedule your complimentary initial screening today to take the first step towards a brighter future with LASIK.

Are you interested in learning if you may be a candidate for LASIK? Schedule a LASIK consultation at VisionFirst Eye Center in Birmingham, AL, today!

Does insurance cover the cost of LASIK?

Laser vision correction is considered a cosmetic elective procedure typically not covered by insurance companies. We do, however, offer several payment options.

Are LASIK results permanent?

When you undergo Laser Vision Correction at our center in Birmingham, Alabama the results are permanent. However, it does not prevent age-related conditions such as cataracts and presbyopia.

When will I be able to return to work after LASIK?

Many patients return to work the day after the procedure. Your eye doctor will discuss which, if any, work activities should be limited during the postoperative period.

Is LASIK painful?

Not at all. Patients are given a mild sedative and anesthetizing eye drops. Following LASIK surgery, eyes may temporarily feel scratchy, but this isn’t a problem for most patients. Some patients experience a mild sensitivity to light but this will subside as well.

I have never had to wear eyeglasses until just recently, and now only wear them to read. Will LASIK correct this?

Unfortunately, LASIK is not the best option to get rid of your reading glasses. As we age, the lens in the eye loses its ability to bend, which is what allows us to see both up close and far away. That is why most people over 40, who have never had difficulty with their vision, suddenly need reading glasses. This condition is called presbyopia. Laser Vision Correction will not help restore the flexibility of your natural lens, but there are several other options that you should discuss with our LASIK counselor.

If I am a LASIK candidate, what’s the next step?

If you are a candidate, we will perform an extensive exam before your procedure. This comprehensive examination takes approximately 2 hours. To assure your best visual outcome, we ask that you leave soft contact lenses out for two week and hard contacts out three weeks prior to this exam. For hard contacts, plan to have your measurements repeated every 1-2 weeks until they stabilize.

Free LASIK Screening

The initial screening is free. We will start by measuring your prescription, measuring the thickness of your corneas (the front clear part of your eye), and answering all of your questions.

LASIK Evaluation

If it appears that you may be a good candidate for LASIK, the next step is to schedule your preoperative examination with your eye doctor. To assure the best visual outcome, you’ll need to leave your soft contact lenses out for two week and hard contacts three weeks prior to your pre- operative exam. Plan to have your measurements repeated every 1-2 weeks until they stabilize. This evaluation is extensive and includes taking measurements and assessing the overall health of your eyes.

Schedule your LASIK Surgery Date

If you are still a good candidate for LASIK, your LASIK surgeon will thoroughly explain the benefits and risks of the procedure and answer any questions you may have. We will then schedule your surgery date. You are getting closer to clear vision!

Pre-LASIK Counseling

In the days leading up to the surgery, our LASIK coordinator will call or email you with your pre- and post-operative instructions. We’ll explain your payment options and call in the prescription drugs to your pharmacy to use after your procedure.


Your LASIK surgeon will meet with you and your family to answer any remaining questions and review your test results. In order to relax you, we will administer a valium and escort you to our relaxation room where you can lie down and listen to music. The procedure only takes a few minutes and is done in our Laser Suite. Your friends and family can watch the procedure from our viewing area. Click here to watch the entire experience or contact us and we will email you an animated video.

LASIK Post-Operative Appointment

All of your post-operative appointments are provided for up to three months following your procedure. If you and your eye doctor decide you need additional laser treatments to improve your vision, these enhancements are provided by VisionFirst free of charge for two years, provided you complete all of your post-operative visits and your eye doctors clear you of any contraindications for an enhancement.

Am I a LASIK candidate?

Call to schedule your free LASIK screening! We will start by measuring your prescription, measuring the thickness of your corneas (the front clear part of your eye), and answering all of your questions. If we determine you may be a candidate, the next step is a complete medical eye evaluation.

This examination is a complete eye evaluation and eye history to determine whether you are a good candidate for the LASIK procedure. VisionFirst laser vision correction patients have a Wavescan, orbscan, corneal tomography, pachymetry, refraction, and dilated eye exam. This advanced technology maps the unique characteristics of your individual eye. With this information, our surgeon will be able to:

  • Accurately assess whether you’re a good candidate for laser vision correction.
  • Along with the other diagnostic tests that your doctor performs, an individualized treatment plan can then be developed to address your unique vision needs.

The best way to find out if you are a candidate for IntraLase Custom LASIK is to schedule a free LASIK screening by calling us at 205-949-2020.

For Patients with Astigmatism

Astigmatism is usually caused by the curvature of your cornea. It causes blurred vision at both distance and near ranges. Generally LASIK is an excellent treatment for astigmatism. However, the initial screening and eye exam at our Birmingham, AL office will provide a more conclusive answer.

For Patients over 40

Tired of contacts, bifocals, even reading glasses? If you are over or approaching 40, there are things to consider before you undergo LASIK correction at VisionFirst. After 40, there are changes in the lens inside the eye that cause difficulty in changing focus from distance to near. This is called presbyopia.

LASIK can correct for one distance only. Most people choose to have their vision corrected for distance. LASIK cannot reverse presbyopia. Before having LASIK at our eye care clinic, there are a few options to contemplate:

LASIK Distance Correction in Both Eyes

This is the most common preference and allows both eyes to work together. If you are over 40, you will still need reading glasses.

LASIK Monovision Correction

This option corrects your dominant eye for distance vision and your non-dominant for near. The advantage is you will not need reading glasses for most tasks. You may still need reading glasses for fine print or prolonged reading. Monovision may first be tried in contact lenses, before it is made permanent with laser treatment.

Refractive Lens Exchange

Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE) is a procedure for patients over the age of 45 who want to reduce their dependence on reading glasses. Using the same procedure that has been used for millions of patients undergoing cataract surgery, Dr. Mark Bearman and Dr. Carolyn Hebson perform the RLE procedure by removing the eye’s natural lens and replacing it with an artificial lens implant. With the RLE procedure, a laser is used to make an incision and specially designed intraocular lenses are inserted that allow the eye to focus for distance and NEAR.

Refractive Lens Exchange is used for the following types of patients:
  • Patients with very high levels of nearsightedness or farsightedness.
  • Patients who want to limit their dependence on bifocals or reading glasses.
  • Patients who have corneas that are too thin for LASIK.
  • Patients who may be showing signs (even without symptoms) of developing cataracts.

Monovision LASIK and Refractive Lens Exchange are great vision correction options, but must be fully understood before you make any decisions about surgery. Our doctors can help you decide the best option available to help reduce your dependence on eyeglasses.

Visian ICL

There’s a new option besides LASIK, contact lenses and glasses. It’s called Visian ICL. ICL–or the implantable commaler lens–is a procedure to help correct near-sightedness.

In a 15-minute procedure at the Outpatient Care Center, Dr. Carolyn Hebson will implant a tiny foldable Visian ICL into the far edge of the cornea. Recovery from this procedure is fast and usually only lasts one day. Side effects are typically minimal but include dry eyes, thinner corneas and some increased ocular pressure.

PRK Laser Eye Surgery

Photorefractive keratectomy was the first type of laser surgery, a predecessor to LASIK surgery. Even though it’s the first form of laser eye surgery, it’s still the best for some patients. PRK works by reshaping the cornea using an excimer laser. This allows light entering the eye to be properly focused onto the retina for clear vision. Recovery time for PRK is generally a little longer.

PRK is similar to LASIK in that it works by reshaping the cornea using an excimer laser. The main difference between PRK and LASIK lies within the first step of the procedure.

In PRK, the outer layer of cornea (epithelium) is manually removed prior to corneal reshaping with the excimer laser. The epithelium will repair itself by growing back over the corneal surface within 3-7 days of surgery. In LASIK, a thin corneal flap is created and lifted to expose the underlying corneal tissue. The cornea is reshaped with the excimer laser and the flap is repositioned. The actual laser treatment is the same and visual outcomes after PRK and LASIK are similar. However, there are advantages and disadvantages to each surgery.

Advantages of PRK include:

Less corneal tissue is treated, allowing non-LASIK candidates the option of refractive surgery. There is no risk of flap-related complications. Risk of dry eyes may be reduced.

Disadvantages of PRK include:

Visual recovery is slower after PRK compared to LASIK. Most patients do not work for at least 2 days after surgery to allow their eyes time to rest.Compared to LASIK, patients who undergo PRK can have more irritation and foreign body sensation for the first few days after surgery.Patients require a longer duration of prescription eye drops after PRK as compared to LASIK.

What should I expect after PRK?

Once the eye is treated, the surgeon will place a soft contact lens to protect the eye while it heals. The contact lens will remain in the eye while the cornea heals, which typically occurs within 3-7 days. During this time, it is normal to experience blurry or fluctuating vision, light sensitivity, dryness, and/or foreign body sensation. It is common for one eye to heal more rapidly than another.

You will be given prescription eye drops as well as oral pain medication to use if needed. At your one week appointment, the contact lenses are removed and your vision will slowly improve. It can take a few weeks to a few months for patients to achieve their optimal vision, however your final visual outcome will be the same as if you had LASIK. As a result, your patience will be rewarded by a lifetime of better vision.

Which is better for me, LASIK or PRK?

In most cases, PRK is recommended for patients who have thinner corneas, slightly irregular corneas, or corneal pathology. After a detailed clinical examination, Dr. Carolyn Hebson will recommend the surgical procedure that best fits your needs.

Bret Fisher, MD
Bret Fisher, MD
Homewood and Alabaster
CALL 205-949-2020
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