What is Laser Vision Correction for the Eyes?

Refractive Laser Vision Correction offers an alternative to glasses and contact lenses in correcting vision. It can correct myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness) and astigmatism by changing the shape of the cornea with an excimer laser which is a cold laser beam.

Changing the shape of the cornea with the excimer laser is the most technologically advanced method of vision correction used in the eyes. It offers most people who currently wear glasses or contact lenses the opportunity for good vision without any other form of correction.

The excimer laser is a charged mixture of argon and fluoride gases in a mirrored tube to produce a beam of ultraviolet light. This beam is unique because it has the ability to break the molecular bonds between tissue and vaporize it, a microscopic layer at a time. The laser can sculpt tissue with no effect on the underlying and surrounding tissue. This makes it ideal for changing the shape of the cornea to reduce or eliminate focusing problems.

How does it work?

For people with nearsightedness, the eye is usually too long and the focus point is in the front of the retina. The cornea is easily modified to correct this problem by changing its shape. The change in shape in the curvature of the cornea counteracts the excess length of the eye.

However, for people with farsightedness, it is the opposite. The eye is too short and the focus point is behind the retina. As before, the cornea is easily modified to correct this problem, by changing its shape as well.

For people with astigmatism, the cornea is normally “egg-shaped” as opposed to round. In this case, the cornea is reshaped to focus properly.

The exact details of the modifications to be made to your cornea are calculated based on a comprehensive eye examination. The details are programmed into the computer of the laser. During a procedure, the laser is under the complete control of the surgeon. The VISX Star S4 Laser has an active track system which ensures a centered ablation at all times.

What is custom LASIK or WavePrint?

The WavePrint System is a diagnostic treatment approach that allows Dr. Palmer to take a precise measurement of your eyes, like a “fingerprint” of your vision, and then provide you with personalized vision correction. Your eyes and your vision are as unique as your fingerprints or DNA. Until now, laser vision correction has used the same diagnostic information used to prescribe contact lenses and glasses. Now, with the WavePrint System, Dr. Palmer can develop a laser vision plan based on your personal vision needs.

How does the WavePrint System work?

The WavePrint Map, a “fingerprint of your vision,” obtains a precise and more detailed analysis of the way your entire optical system processes light. Thereby allowing the first truly personalized laser vision correction plan for patients. The data available with this new technology not only personalize treatment but also enables Dr. Palmer to immediately and accurately assess whether a patient is a good candidate for laser vision correction. The WavePrint System incorporates a host of VISX technologies, including the WavePrint Map, the 3D ActiveTrak and Variable Spot Scanning (VSS). The WavePrint Map measures light waves as they travel through your eyes, providing a very precise and more detailed analysis of your vision, as well as showing levels of distortion that were previously undetectable. The 3D ActiveTrak is the only system with three-dimensional tracking that follows every involuntary movement of the eye during treatment. Variable Spot Scanning, or VSS, allows for a larger treatment area, offering Dr. Palmer greater flexibility in developing a more personalized laser vision procedure when the pupil size is a consideration.

What makes the WavePrint System unique?

The WavePrint System includes the first commercially available diagnostic device to map the entire optical path of your eye. This provides Dr. Palmer with precise and more detailed information about your vision.

The laser is extremely precise and in fact, a few weeks after having had the procedure, there is little or no evidence a laser procedure has occurred, other than the patient is now enjoying normal vision.

Who qualifies for the procedure?

Almost any level of myopia will respond to the procedure. In addition, up to six diopters of myopic astigmatism are treatable. The laser has also been approved for up to eight diopters of hyperopia. You will receive a thorough eye examination by Dr. Palmer before you are scheduled for the procedure. This will confirm your prescription and your potential for effective treatment.

Laser Vision Correction is not yet able to correct bifocal treatments. The aging, called presbyopia, can be corrected by choosing a vision correction called Monovision. Please speak with our LASIK coordinator to help you determine if this is the right treatment for you.

The Educational and Surgical Experience

What’s involved if I want to proceed?

This first step is to schedule a consultation/evaluation at Palmer Eye Center. You will receive information regarding the laser procedure, be able to address any questions or concerns you may have and make an informed decision as to whether laser vision correction is right for you. At that time we will examine your eyes to confirm you are a candidate for the procedure and to ensure you have no other eye problems, which may inhibit the satisfactory correction of your vision. You will have all of your questions answered as well as the opportunity to speak with Dr. Palmer about your eyes and the results you can expect from laser vision correction.

Planning for the Procedure

You will only miss one day of work for this procedure. You are required to take off from work immediately after the procedure and must be accompanied by someone to drive you home afterward. The day following your surgery please return to the office for a follow-up appointment. Virtually all Lasik patients are able to drive themselves to their follow-up appointment. Patients are typically released to return to work after this appointment.

Who performs my procedure?

Dr. Richard Palmer, a two-year fellowship-trained Refractive Laser Surgeon in North Florida and South Georgia will perform your Lasik surgery. He is a board-certified ophthalmologist and a member of the American Academy of Ophthalmology. His experience with the Excimer laser began with his fellowship training at LSU Eye Center in 1993. LSU was chosen as one of the original ten centers in America to perform the initial United States FDA Clinical Trials. Doctors Herb Kaufman and Marguerite McDonald, both of whom are considered world-class experts in the field of laser vision correction, were his mentors during this time. In fact, Dr. Kaufman is considered to be the world’s greatest corneal physician and Dr. McDonald was one of only ten surgeons worldwide to participate in the classic study “The Perspective Evaluation of Radial Keratotomy,” which is the first US study with federal funding regarding RK surgery. Dr. Palmer also completed the extensive FDA required training for the VISX Excimer Laser.


The refractive examination is very thorough and your eyes will be dilated. You should plan on being at the office for approximately two hours for this examination.

After the refractive examination, you may schedule your procedure. The surgery is performed in our office by Dr. Palmer. Upon arrival, you will be brought into the pre-op area where a member of our surgical team prepares you for surgery and discusses postoperative instructions, after which, at your discretion, you will be given 10 milligrams of Valium to relax you prior to the procedure. Once brought into the surgery suite your eyelids will be cleaned. Before the procedure begins Dr. Palmer will administer topical anesthetic drops to your eyes. The actual laser portion of the procedure lasts up to 60 seconds and is painless.

About the Surgical Suite

At Palmer Eye Center rest assured you will be well cared for in our state-of-the-art climate-controlled laser vision correction surgical suite. Unlike other facilities that utilize the services of a mobile laser unit once a month and then travel on to its next destination, Palmer Eye Center offers an in-house laser vision correction facility unparalleled in most offices in Florida and Georgia.

Closed-circuit monitoring is available for family and friends to view your procedure if you so wish.

After the Procedure

Immediately following the procedure you will be discharged. The assistant will place protective eyewear on you and escort you to the reception area.

It is normal to feel some discomfort such as burning and tearing for approximately two hours after the procedure. We advise you to sleep during this time wearing the plastic shields.

Planning for the Procedure

Will I need time off of work?

It is recommended you take off from work the day of your procedure. Patients will have a postoperative appointment in the office the morning after the procedure. Most are able to return to work after that appointment. It is best you arrange time off from work for at least two days.

Can Lasik Surgery be performed on both eyes at the same time?

Most patients have both eyes corrected on the same day.