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Laser Surgery for Farsightedness: Costs, Qualifications & What to Know

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Can You Get Laser Surgery for Farsightedness?

Yes, laser surgery can be an option to treat mild to moderate farsightedness.

Farsightedness impacts about 5 to 10% of the American population, the National Eye Institute explains, and it can impact both children and adults. There are two main types of farsightedness: hyperopia and presbyopia. Treatment options can vary depending on the type and severity of the condition but a common treatment option is laser surgery for farsightedness. 

Laser surgery for farsightedness typically involves procedures like LASIK or PRK, which reshape the cornea to correct refractive errors. Learn if Laser surgery for farsightedness is right for you – below we uncover details of laser surgery for farsightedness, such as types, benefits what to know beforehand, costs, qualifications and risks.

3 Types of Laser Surgery for Farsightedness

There are three main forms of refractive laser surgery for farsightedness

woman with myopia

Mayo Clinic publishes that refractive surgery is most commonly used to treat nearsighted eye conditions (myopia); however, laser surgery can be a viable option for farsightedness as well. Laser eye surgery uses a specialized laser to ablate the cornea, reshaping it to correct refractive errors.

In the case of hyperopia, the laser shapes the cornea to make it steeper, lengthening it so the focusing power is directed onto the retina instead of behind it. Both LASIK and PRK are forms of laser refractive eye surgery that can be used to correct hyperopia.

Presbyopia can be treated with a specialized procedure called monovision that corrects one eye for distance vision and the other eye for close-up sight. This procedure may not be for everyone, as it can take some getting used to as the eyes will no longer focus together, and there is an adjustment period. Hyperopia and presbyopia can also be treated with intraocular lens (IOL) implantation or RLE, which involves replacing the natural lens with an artificial clear lens.

3 main types of laser surgery for farsightedness:

  • Laser-assisted in-situ keratomileusis (LASIK) is one of the most common forms of laser eye surgery with a high success and satisfaction rate. The Food and Drug Association (FDA) publishes studies indicating that about 95 percent of patients are happy with their vision following a LASIK procedure. With LASIK, a specialized laser is used to create a small flap in the epithelial (outer part) of the cornea, which is hinged back, while a secondary laser is used to ablate the stroma (inner part), reshaping the curvature to the premeasured point. The flap is then replaced and allowed to heal on its own without the need for stitches or further medical intervention. The procedure is typically performed in under an hour, noninvasive, and considered safe.
  • Photorefractive keratectomy (PRK). PRK is actually a type of LASEK (laser-assisted subepithelial keratectomy) surgery that involves cutting a thin flap into the cornea’s epithelial layer and removing it entirely before reshaping the cornea underneath. The epithelial will grow back on its own and fit to the new corneal shape naturally. PRK is an option for people who have thin corneas and may not be eligible for LASIK.
  • Refractive lens exchange (RLE). Lens replacement eye surgery, or RLE, actually replaces your natural lens with a completely new clear lens. This procedure is generally intended for people who may not be candidates for PRK or LASIK procedures and suffer from a high degree of hyperopia or presbyopia without cataracts. The journal Touch Ophthalmology publishes that RLE is generally more suited for correcting hyperopia than myopia, and the procedure can be helpful in correcting farsightedness when other options are not as viable.

Bladed vs. Bladeless LASIK

Your ophthalmologist has a choice between use bladed LASIK and bladeless LASIK to cut a corneal flap during surgery. The main difference between the two techniques is in blade LASIK, the ophthalmologist uses a microkeratome (surgical instrument with oscillating blade designed to create a corneal flap in LASIK) to create a thin, hinged flap on the cornea. Bladeless LASIK, the ophthalmologist does not use a microkeratome.

  • Bladeless LASIK: This method is also known as all-laser LASIK. It involves cutting the corneal flap using a surgical tool called laser keratome.
  • Bladed LASIK: With this traditional method, the surgeon uses a mechanical instrument (microkeratome) with a blade to manually create the corneal flap.

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), there’s no consensus among eye surgeons on which of the two methods is more effective or safer. Some ophthalmologists believe the all-laser option is better for flap creation.

What To Know Before Getting Laser Surgery for Farsightedness

There are some things you should know before getting laser surgery, and you will need to take certain measures before undergoing the procedure. 

In order to be eligible for laser eye surgery to treat hyperopia or presbyopia, you will need to be in good health, and this includes good optical health. 

  1. Your eye prescription will need to have been stable for at least a year, and since the cornea is being reshaped, the measurements must fit into a certain range to be eligible for laser surgery.
  2. Your prescription shouldn’t be too high.
  3. For the treatment of presbyopia, you will need to not have cataracts forming
  4. Mayo Clinic warns that LASIK procedures may not be ideal for severe hyperopia.

Your doctor can determine if you are a candidate for a laser eye surgical procedure and which one might be best. The ophthalmologist will perform precise measurements of the eyes prior to this determination to ensure that you have enough thickness on your cornea for LASIK. If you don’t, PRK may be a better option.

Consider your expectations for the procedure and talk with your doctor in order to ensure that you are both on the same page. In preparation for a laser eye surgery, you will usually need to stop wearing your contacts (if you wear them) for a few weeks.

Risks and Rewards

LASIK and laser surgery procedures were initially intended to treat nearsightedness, or myopia. The Peer-Reviewed, Open Access Journal (PLOS One) publishes that it presents a different potential risk than myopic corrections, as it has been common for hyperopic eyes to lose their refractive power and regress post LASIK. Advances to technology over the years has lowered this potential risk, and laser surgery is more effective in treating hyperopia today.

Presbyopia has traditionally been treated with monovision LASIK, which means that the eyes are corrected differently. Since it can take a lot of adjustment, the eye being corrected for hyperopia often cannot be corrected as much as it may need to be for crystal-clear, close-up vision. Monovision can also cause some blurring with distance vision for some people. Newer technologies, such as IOLs and clear lens exchange procedures, are often preferable, the journal Review of Cornea and Contact Lenses reports.

Advances in IOL implants continue to be made, reducing the risks and improving the rewards for eligible patients. According to Optometry Times, RLE is a viable option for people who are not eligible for LASIK or PRK, even if their lenses are clear to begin with. There is a small risk for loss of vision due to infection or lens detachment, but it is considered minimal. In general, an RLE procedure is considered to be as safe and effective as other laser surgery procedures.

Laser surgery is a same-day procedure that is classified as minimally invasive, but it is still a surgical procedure with potential risk factors. Dry eyes, glares, halos around lights, decreased night vision, vision changes, and infection are all possible complications resulting from a laser eye surgery. The journal Review of Ophthalmology publishes that negative nighttime visual symptoms and prohibitive costs can be potential barriers for people seeking out IOLs for presbyopia.

Cost of Laser Eye Surgery for Farsightedness

Laser surgery for farsightedness is considered an elective procedure, and as such, it is rarely covered by insurance. Costs can range between $1,500 and $3,000 for each eye and can vary depending on the exact treatment needed and the severity of the condition being corrected.

In the long run, however, laser surgery may actually save you money on eye exams and prescription eyewear, as it can decrease the need to wear contacts or eyeglasses. There are payment and financing options to help people budget for laser eye surgery. The benefit of improved sight is often worth the cost.

LASIK Financing

If you’re considering having LASIK, you may need to explore alternative financing methods. Your options may include Flexible Spending Accounts, Health Savings Accounts or private financing.

Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) and Health Savings Accounts (HSAs)

If your employer offers an FSA or an HSA program, you can use it to cover your out-of-pocket eyecare costs. You’ll be putting a portion of your monthly pay into your account. (You can only have one of these accounts at a time, under IRS rules. Contributions to both accounts are pre-tax.)

Private Financing

Some finance companies lend money to patients to cover their medical costs, including eyecare. You may approach such a firm for a LASIK loan provided that they’re affiliated with your preferred ophthalmologist. Most of these lenders offer flexible loan terms, including interest.

How Effective is Laser Surgery for Farsightedness?

LASIK surgery grows increasingly effective at treating farsightedness as more accurate and efficient tools become available. It’s already highly effective, and surgeons enjoy a high satisfaction rate among patients who chose this corrective elective procedure.

In a recent study, 69% of people who opted for LASIK for farsightedness achieved vision of 20/20 or better. About 97 percent gained 20/40 or better vision after the procedure.

Outcomes, however, can vary among patients, with vision stability being the main concern after treatment. Some people may experience dry eye. Others must wear prescription glasses to treat nearsightedness following LASIK surgery.

patient undergoing Laser Surgery for Farsightedness

Eligibility & What to Expect Before Laser Surgery for Farsightedness

In order to be eligible for laser eye surgery to treat hyperopia or presbyopia, you will need to be in good health, and this includes good optical health. Your eyes will need to have been stable with their prescription for at least a year. For the treatment of presbyopia, you will need to not have cataracts forming. Mayo Clinic warns that LASIK procedures may not be ideal for severe hyperopia.

Your doctor can determine if you are a candidate for a laser eye surgical procedure and which one might be best. The ophthalmologist will perform precise measurements of the eyes prior to this determination to ensure that you have enough thickness on your cornea for LASIK. If you don’t, PRK may be a better option.

Consider your expectations for the procedure and talk with your doctor in order to ensure that you are both on the same page. In preparation for a laser eye surgery, you will usually need to stop wearing your contacts (if you wear them) for a few weeks.

What to Expect After Laser Surgery

Laser eye surgery can help to improve your farsighted vision and decrease your need for reading or prescription glasses. Your eyes may still change with age. Just because you’ve had LASIK or another procedure, you may still need reading glasses later in life. In addition, cataracts can still form, and laser surgery does not affect the risk for these either.

Recovery from a laser eye procedure is relatively quick, with LASIK being the least invasive and having the fastest recovery time. Generally, you will need to take a day or so off work and refrain from eye strain. You may need to avoid watching TV, reading, or spending time on the computer for a few days.

Strenuous exercise and contact sports, as well as swimming or hot tubs, should be avoided for a few weeks after a laser eye procedure. You will also need to keep lotions, creams, and makeup off your face and away from your eyes for a week or two. Avoid rubbing your eyes.

The FDA publishes that your vision can take a few months to stabilize completely, but you should be seeing better within a few days after a laser surgery procedure. You will need to attend a follow-up appointment with your surgeon a day or two after the procedure, and follow the instructions given by the surgical team to enhance healing.

Costs of LASIK Surgery

A recent market report shows that the price for LASIK surgery per eye is about $2,246. This cost can vary based on various factors, including the surgical method your surgeon uses and how much your vision needs to be corrected.

Some ophthalmologists charge more for all-laser (bladeless) LASIK. Also, it may cost you more to customize your treatment. Others have a single price regardless of the LASIK procedure used to treat farsightedness.

The amount of vision correction needed usually impacts the complexity of surgery. A few LASIK surgeons consider this factor in their cost formulations.

Financing Your LASIK Procedure

Unfortunately, most health plans don’t cover LASIK surgery. They consider the treatment optional, meaning that it’s not medically required.

If you’re considering having LASIK, you may need to explore alternative financing methods. Your options may include Flexible Spending Accounts, Health Savings Accounts or private financing.

Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) and Health Savings Accounts (HSAs)

If your employer offers an FSA or an HSA program, you can use it to cover your out-of-pocket eyecare costs. You’ll be putting a portion of your monthly pay into your account. (You can only have one of these accounts at a time, under IRS rules. Contributions to both accounts are pre-tax.)

Private LASIK Financing

Some finance companies lend money to patients to cover their medical costs, including eyecare. You may approach such a firm for a LASIK loan provided that they’re affiliated with your preferred ophthalmologist. Most of these lenders offer flexible loan terms, including interest.

Alternatives to LASIK for Farsightedness

There are other, non-LASIK ways to tackle farsightedness. Other potential treatment options include:

  • Photorefractive keratectomy (PRK): Your surgeon scrapes away the top surface of your cornea instead of creating a flap.
  • Intraocular lenses: These can be surgically implanted in your eye to correct farsightedness.
  • Small-incision lenticule extraction (SMILE): Your surgeon uses laser to reshape your cornea.
  • Eyewear: Prescription glasses and contact lenses can correct farsightedness.

Contact us or find the eye clinic location to determine if laser surgery for farsightedness right for you.

References

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  2. Hyperopia FAQs. (2018). American Optometric Association.
  3. Presbyopia. (December 2017). Mayo Clinic.
  4. Farsightedness. (June 2018). Mayo Clinic.
  5. LASIK Quality of Life Collaboration Project. (September 2018). U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
  6. Updates and Challenges in Refractive Lens Exchange. (March 2018). Touch Ophthalmology.
  7. Hyperopic Refraction Correction by LASIK, SMILE, or Lenticule Implantation in a Non-Human Primate Model. (March 2018). PLOS One.
  8. Presbyopia: The State of Surgical Correction. (March 2018). Review of Cornea & Contact Lenses.
  9. The Pros and Cons of Clear Lens Exchange. (August 2014). Optometry Times.
  10. Presbyopic IOLs: Choosing Wisely. (January 2018). Review of Ophthalmology.
  11. Lasik Surgery: Is It Right for You? (March 2017). Mayo Clinic.
  12. What Should I Expect Before, During, and After Surgery? (July 2018). U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
  13. Farsightedness. (2021). National Eye Institute.
  14. Hyperopia (farsightedness). (2021). American Optometric Association.
  15. Presbyopia. (September 2020). Mayo Clinic.
  16. Alternative Refractive Surgery Procedures. (September 2017). American Academy of Opthamology.
  17. LASIK – FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions). (July 2018). U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
  18. Comparison of Visual Outcome After Hyperopic LASIK Using a Wavefront-Optimized Platform Versus Other Excimer Lasers in the Past Two Decades. (May 2021). Ophthalmology and Therapy.
  19. How Much Does LASIK Eye Surgery Cost? (September 2021). All About Vision.
  20. LASIK Financing: How to Afford LASIK Surgery. (September 2021). All About Vision.
  21. Average Cost of Frames and Single-Vision Lenses in the United States as of 2019. (2021). Statista.

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