Kaiser Permanente Laser Vision Correction
The LASIK Experience
If you’re planning LASIK (laser eye surgery) in San Francisco, Sacramento, or anywhere in Northern California, you probably have a lot of questions about what you can expect from your experience. At Kaiser Permanente, we value engagement and education, and we want you to feel ready for your procedure. Whether you’re still merely considering surgery or you’ve already booked your appointment, this page can help you prepare for every step of the way.
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A Comprehensive Consultation
At Kaiser Permanente in Northern California, your laser vision correction experience starts with a thorough clinical consultation. The primary goal of this evaluation is to learn about you, your vision needs, and determine whether your eyes are suitable for an elective procedure and, if so, which procedure may be best for you. During the evaluation, your provider dilates your eyes to examine them thoroughly before pursuing an elective procedure.
Your provider also uses a corneal measurement device to determine the precise contours of the surface of the cornea. In addition, you receive a full ophthalmic examination during which your tear function is evaluated, and the thickness of your cornea is measured. A Kaiser Permanente refractive surgeon then reviews the results of your exam and discusses your options with you.
An equally important objective of the consultation is to educate you regarding some aspects of laser vision correction and to help you understand the results you can reasonably expect from your procedure.
If you wear contact lenses, please remove them prior to this exam, and again before the surgery itself.
- Soft contact lenses: Remove these at least 1 week before your consultation.
- Soft toric lenses: Remove these at least 2 weeks before your consultation.
- Rigid gas-permeable or hard contact lenses: You’ll need to remove these at least 1 month before your surgery date. You may wear them prior to the initial consultation, but if you want to proceed with surgical planning, you will be asked to stop wearing the lenses for a month or more before. During serial monthly examinations, the physicians will determine if those lenses have distorted your cornea. Once measurements document a stable cornea shape, final surgical planning measurements will be taken. Your provider can offer you more details.
Paying for Laser Vision Correction
Laser eye surgery is not typically covered by insurance. Kaiser Permanente accepts payment via cash, credit card, or money order. Our Cost & Payment Options page provides a more in-depth summary of our financial policies as well as what services, such as prescribed medications and follow-up appointments, are included with your payment.1
The Day of Surgery
Your laser vision correction procedure is performed in a modern laser suite. On the day of surgery, you arrive at the laser center where your provider reviews the procedure and postoperative care with you.
After cleaning the area around your eyes, a surgery staff member applies anesthetic drops to numb your eyes. Often, you will have been prescribed a light sedative by mouth, to allow you to relax during the procedure and optimized your cooperation. General anesthesia is not necessary. The typical procedure lasts for approximately 15 minutes from start to finish, with each actual laser treatment lasting about a minute.
In Their Own Words...
One month out of LASIK – and things are AMAZING! I can’t believe how well I can see.”— Michelle, LASIK patient in San Francisco Read More Patient Testimonials
Immediately after surgery, your eyes will be more sensitive to light and your vision will be somewhat blurred. Because of this, you won’t be able to drive safely — so be sure to arrange for a ride home. Your provider will offer you protective glasses to make your ride home more comfortable.
For up to 6 hours after the procedure, you may experience discomfort, irritation, tearing and light-sensitivity in your eyes. You should plan to relax and keep your eyes closed as much as possible for the remainder of the day. This step is critical to help your corneal flaps to seal into good position. Your provider also instructs you to use medication eye drops to help the procedure heal optimally. You will also be instructed to use over-the-counter lubricating eye drops to help relieve some of the discomfort. Refrigerating all these eye drops help comfort the eyes as well. For many patients, their unassisted vision starts to approach the clarity they experienced with glasses or contacts by the very next day!
While your eyes heal over the following few months you may notice fluctuations in your vision. In some cases, it may persist longer.
Good postoperative care is an important component of laser vision correction. The day after your procedure, your physician will check your eyes to make sure they’re healing properly. Most patients are able to return to work within a couple of days. To avoid over taxing your eyes the day after the procedure, its advised to avoid returning to work and avoid prolonged reading and work.
Sometimes, people may require more than 1 treatment to achieve the full benefit of laser vision correction. These additional laser treatments are called “enhancements.” Enhancements fine-tune the results of the first laser procedure. Your surgeon will work with you to determine if enhancements are beneficial for you.
Potential Risks & Complications
As with any medical procedure, laser vision correction involves risks. Although these risks are uncommon, it’s important that you understand them before deciding if the procedure is right for you. Some potential risks include:
- Night Glare: With present technology, many laser vision correction patients do not experience significant worsening of night vision or night glare. But some people may experience halos or “starbursts” around lights at nighttime following their procedures, especially if these patients are currently experienced with contact lens or wear glasses.
- Dryness & Fluctuating Vision: Your eyes may feel dry throughout the first 6 to 12 months after surgery. These symptoms are usually relieved with the use of artificial tears or other common supportive measures. If you have a preexisting dry eye condition, please be sure to discuss it with your surgeon, as these symptoms may be more pronounced after surgery.
- Infection & Corneal Flap Risks: The risk of eye infection is greatest in the first week following the procedure. Antibiotic drops are prescribed to help minimize this risk. Some patients may also develop problems following the LASIK procedure as the flap heals.
Be sure to discuss all the benefits and potential risks with your refractive surgeon. It’s essential that you’re well-informed and have realistic expectations for your results before you proceed with laser vision correction.
1 Kaiser Permanente members typically have coverage for medically necessary eye examinations, which are generally conducted at Kaiser Permanente facilities. Otherwise, services described here are provided on a fee-for-service basis. These services are separate from your Health Plan benefits and are not provided or covered by Kaiser Permanente Foundation Health Plan, Inc. Clinical services are provided by providers or contractors of the Permanente Medical Groups. Results of services vary among patients and cannot be guaranteed. The Permanente Medical Groups, Kaiser Permanente Foundation Health Plan, Inc., and Kaiser Permanente Foundation Hospitals have a financial interest in the provision of these services. For specific information about your Health Plan benefits, please see your Evidence of Coverage.Back to Top