What is laser refractive surgery?

In laser refractive surgery, Dr. Duffey uses the excimer laser to remove an ultra-thin layer of the cornea.  This alters the cornea's refractive power to suit your eye's focal length better, improving your vision. Almost all of Dr. Duffey’s patients no longer require glasses or contact lenses after surgery.  There are two popular forms of the procedure: the older PRK (Photo-Refractive Keratectomy) and the more technologically advanced LASIK (Laser ASsisted In-situ Keratomileusis).

Am I a candidate for refractive surgery?


Almost all patients that wear glasses or contact lenses are now candidates for refractive surgery.  Specifically, the excimer laser is approved to correct nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism.  The best way to be certain of your candidacy is to attend a free weekly evening seminar or free daily office screening exam, in Mobile.  This can be arranged by calling 251-343-EYES.  It will allow you to receive a complimentary screening exam directly with Dr. Duffey, either at the seminar or in the office, at your convenience.

What is the difference between PRK and LASIK?

In PRK, the surgeon removes a thin layer from the front of your cornea.  In LASIK, the surgeon removes tissue beneath the surface of the cornea instead of directly off the surface.  Both procedures use the excimer laser, but LASIK uses a protective "flap" in the cornea.  The surgeon applies excimer laser energy to the area underneath the flap and then repositions it back over the cornea.  LASIK allows a more rapid healing response, with return to normal activities usually within 24 hours, and can be used to correct larger degrees of refractive errors.

What is Thin-Flap LASIK?

It is just another name for i-LASIK and can be performed with modern thin flap microkeratomes.

What is Astigmatism?

Astigmatism is condition of the eye characterized by a non-spherical curvature of the cornea. This type of disorder is also known as a refractive error, but differs from myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), and presbyopia (the inability to focus on near objects and read up close after age forty). Under normal circumstances, when light enters the eye, it refracts or focuses evenly, creating a clear image of the object on the retina. However, the cornea of a person with astigmatism is shaped more like a football or the back of a spoon. When light enters the eye it is refracted more in one direction than the other, allowing only part of the object to be in focus at one time. Objects at all distances can appear blurry and wavy. Astigmatism occurs in nearly everybody to some degree. But for significantly abnormal curvature, treatment with glasses, contact lenses or surgery is necessary for best vision.

What Are the Symptoms of Astigmatism?

People with uncorrected astigmatism often experience headaches, fatigue, eyestrain, haloes, occasional ghosting or double vision, and blurred vision at all distances.

Is LASIK Safe?

As with any surgical procedure, there are potential risks involved.  Laser vision correction is a comparatively safe procedure and, although complications are possible, only a very small percentage of patients experience a complication.  As a corneal surgeon, Dr. Duffey is highly trained to handle these complications should they occur.

How well will I see after LASIK?

No laser refractive surgery can guarantee that you won't need glasses or contact lenses after the procedure, but after LASIK surgery over 95% of Dr. Duffey's patients see 20/20 or better and over 99% choose to no longer wear glasses or contact lenses.  Sometimes enhancement surgery is worthwhile to "fine tune" the results.  When you reach the age of 40 to 45, you will still require reading glasses for correction of your presbyopia.

Is LASIK painful?

You will feel no pain during the surgery.  You will be instructed to go home and sleep for three-and-a-half hours immediately following the procedure to allow the flap edges to heal in properly, greatly improving the eyesight and returning comfort to the eye almost back to normal.  Most patients experience a certain amount of scratchiness for the first six to 12 hours following LASIK surgery.  We do recommend the use of artificial tear drops for several days to several months to reduce any dry eye symptoms after surgery.

When can I return to work after LASIK?

The vast majority of Dr. Duffey's LASIK patients return to work the next day.   Rarely patients are not seeing well enough to drive the day following surgery and thus are not comfortable returning to the work setting for several days.  You will be placed on minimal restrictions: specifically no swimming or fist fighting for one week following your LASIK surgery.  Other than that, over 95% of patients return to full active daily life the day following surgery.

Can I have both eyes operated on at the same time?

The overwhelming majority of Dr. Duffey's LASIK patients choose to have both eyes operated on at the same operating room visit.  The risks and benefits of doing both eyes on the same day are fully explained by Dr. Duffey and his staff, and ultimately the decision is up to the patient.

How long will I use eye drops following laser vision correction?

If you choose PRK, you will be required to use steroid eye drops for several months following the surgical procedure.  However, should you choose LASIK, most patients are on antibiotic and anti-inflammatory drops for five to seven days following the procedure.  Dr. Duffey does suggest that most patients use artificial teardrops for several months following these procedures, especially in the winter months when humidity is lower and dry eye symptoms occur more frequently.

What is Monovision LASIK?

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Monovision is a specific correction of the eyes where one eye is set for near vision and the dominant eye is set for distance vision. It allows patients over the age of 45 years to function most of the time with no glasses or contact lenses.  Monovision can be achieved surgically with LASIK and laser cataract surgery, and non-surgically with contact lenses. 

What is Conductive Keratoplasty (CK)?

Conductive Keratoplasty (CK) is a surgical procedure used to correct presbyopia.  It involves the placement of radio frequency waves in the peripheral cornea causing collagen shrinking and subsequent steepening of the central cornea to correct farsightedness.  The procedure is done under a topical anesthetic.  The total treatment is typically less than ten minutes, and patients can return to normal activities within 2-3 days.  There is a minimal amount of scratchiness and redness for a day or two following the procedure.

What is Monovision LASIK?

See above regarding surgical monovision.

Will LASIK Correct My Astigmatism?

Yes; over 95% of Dr. Duffey's LASIK and PRK patients have a small to large degree of astigmatism, and it is simply programmed into the laser computers to be treated simultaneously with the patients' nearsightedness or farsightedness.

What is All-Laser LASIK?

Dr. Duffey offers the option of making the LASIK flap with the femtosecond laser (iLASIK) instead of the traditional thin flap made with the a modern microkeratome.

What is i-LASIK?

Just another name for All-Laser LASIK noted above, with the i standing for IntraLase (one of several manufacturers of femtosecond lasers used for flap creation).

What is Bladeless LASIK?

Again, just another name for All-Laser LASIK or i-LASIK noted above.

What is Epi-LASIK?

Is a variation of LASIK and PRK when a flap of epithelium only is lifted to allow the excimer laser beam to reshape the cornea beneath the surface. Then the epithelium is replaced or simply removed to allow new epithelium to grow over the surface of the cornea during a 3-5 day healing period.

What is Custom LASIK or WaveFront-Guided LASIK?

An advanced form of LASIK that corrects standard refractive errors (myopia, hyperopia, and astigmatism) plus higher order aberrations (HOAs) that are unique to each individual eye and patient, making no two treatments the same. Truly a "customized" treatment that Dr. Duffey applies to almost all of his LASIK patients.