Ophthalmology and Optometry FAQ

These are answers to some commonly asked questions; however, it is not intended to be medical advice. To schedule an appointment with one of our physicians to discuss your specific vision needs, please call 229-244-2068.



Cataract FAQ

Optical FAQ


Q. What is the difference between traditional LASIK and iLASIK?

A. Traditional LASIK uses a blade to create the corneal flap and iLASIK uses a laser. The blade used in traditional LASIK is a hand-held instrument and is only capable of making a single, one-dimensional cut across the cornea, which sometimes leaves an irregular surface once the flap is lifted. With iLASIK, a blade never touches your eye and the laser creates a smooth, even surface after the flap is lifted. In addition, it is safer and more comfortable than traditional LASIK.

Q. How does iLASIK work and what can I expect during the procedure?

A. During the first step of the procedure, tiny, rapid pluses of laser light are used to create the corneal flap instead of the use of a metal blade. Each pulse of light passes through the top layers of your cornea and forms a microscopic bubble at a specific depth and position within your eye that is determined by Dr. Petermann. The Intralase laser moves back and forth across your eye, creating a uniform layer of bubbles just beneath your corneal surface. Just prior to applying laser vision correction, Dr. Petermann creates the corneal flap by gently separating the tissues where these bubbles have formed. The flap is then folded back and a second laser is used to make the correction to your cornea based on your unique vision/eye characteristics.

Typically both eyes are treated during the same visit and the procedure generally takes less than 10 minutes per eye. You are awake during the iLASIK procedure; however your eyes will be numbed with drops. You may feel slight pressure, but other than that, the procedure is virtually painless.

Click here to watch an iLASIK procedure.

Q. What are the benefits of iLASIK?

A. Using a laser allows for a more customized, smoother flap fit. This helps further reduce the risks of infection and other side effects, such as dry eye and epithelial in-growth. Using a laser creates a thinner flap, which is gentler on the eye than a traditional blade. Patients also experience a faster recovery time. In short, it is safer and more precise.

Q. What are the side effects of iLASIK?

A. While results are different for each patient, one common side effect is subconjunctival hemorrhaging. This is caused when blood vessels are ruptured or broken. It is generally a painless and harmless condition and disappears within two weeks. No additional treatment is necessary if this occurs. Other risks associated with traditional LASIK may apply.

Q. Who is eligible for iLASIK?

A. Most anyone who is eligible for traditional LASIK is eligible for iLASIK. These include patients who are farsighted, nearsighted and those with astigmatism. To discuss your personal needs, call us to make an appointment for an exam.

Q. Does iLASIK cost more than traditional LASIK?

A. The cost for iLASIK is only slightly higher than traditional LASIK. Call us to learn more.

Q. Do I need a referral?

A. You do not need a referral. We always accept new patients.

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Q. What is the difference between Ophthalmology and Optometry?

A. Ophthalmology is the medical specialty concerned with the anatomy, function and diseases of the eye. An ophthalmologist is a medical doctor who specializes in eye and vision care — providing the full spectrum of eye care, from prescribing glasses and contact lenses to complex and delicate eye surgery.

Optometry is the specialty focusing on the diagnosis and non-surgical treatment of disorders of the eye and vision care.

Q. What is laser vision correction?

A. Laser vision correction is a procedure that improves your vision by permanently changing the shape of your cornea (the clear covering of the front of the eye) with a laser. Often referred to as LASIK (an acronym for the medical term laser assisted in-situ keratomileusis ), it is the most commonly performed type of laser procedure and is an effective treatment for a wide range of vision problems.

Q. How does LASIK work?

A. LASIK permanently changes the shape of your cornea. By reshaping the cornea, the optics of the eye are changed and this brings the image into focus on the retina at the back of the eye.

Q. How many LASIK procedures has Dr. Petermann performed?

A. Dr. Petermann has performed over 5,000 LASIK procedures and was among the first eye care professionals to perform LASIK in South Georgia.

Q. Am I a good candidate for LASIK?

A. Only a qualified LASIK surgeon can determine if LASIK is right for you. The best way to find out if you are a good candidate for the procedure is with a detailed eye exam. You can schedule a complimentary LASIK screening with Dr. Petermann to learn more about the procedure and if LASIK is appropriate for you. If you are being referred to Dr. Petermann by your Optometrist, we will work in conjunction with him/her to find the best solution to your vision needs.

Some basic guidelines include the following:

  • You must be at least 18 years old, in good general health, and have healthy eyes
  • Your vision must be stable for at least one year prior to the laser procedure
  • Your prescription must be within range of the laser

Q. Who is not a good candidate for LASIK?

A. You are not a good candidate if you have an eye disease, such as cataracts or glaucoma, have any degenerative or autoimmune diseases, are pregnant or nursing, or have a condition that deters or slows healing.

Q. How do I prepare for the procedure/pre-operative evaluation

A. You should follow Dr. Petermann’s pre-op instructions exactly. Soft contact lenses must not be worn for 14 days prior to the LASIK evaluation. Hard contact lenses must be stopped 4 weeks prior to your LASIK exam.

On the day of your LASIK procedure, you should eat a normal meal before your appointment. Do not consume any alcohol. Arrange for someone to drive you to and from the procedure. Shower or bathe prior to your appointment, and wear loose, casual clothing.

Since the laser used for the procedure is extremely sensitive to all odors, the following guidelines must be observed by all occupants of the laser suite, including patients, family members, staff members and anyone else present:

  • No hairspray, including scented mousse or gel
  • No perfumes, cologne or scented body lotions

In addition, LASIK patients must obey the following instructions:

  • No eye makeup on either eye
  • No face makeup, including blush and scented facial creams
  • No earrings or facial jewelry

Make sure you bring your prescription medications, a copy of your post-procedure instructions, and your sunglasses to your appointment.

Q. How long does the procedure take?

A. LASIK is an outpatient procedure that takes less than 15 minutes to complete. You should expect to be in the office for approximately 60-90 minutes.

Q. What will I experience during the procedure?

A. Your eyes will be anesthetized with special drops. You will then lie down, and Dr. Petermann will make sure your eye is positioned directly under the laser. (One eye is operated on at a time.) A device is gently placed in your eye to keep your eyelids open. Normally, this is not uncomfortable. An ink marker will be used to indicate where the flap should be placed. A small incision is then made with a laser. (During the procedure, you won’t actually see the creation of the flap, which is very thin.)

You will be asked to look at a target light for a short time while Dr. Petermann watches your eye through a microscope to make sure it remains in the correct position while the laser sends pulses of light to your cornea. The laser is able track your eye so that small movements do not affect the outcome.

The laser uses a cool, ultraviolet light beam to precisely remove very tiny bits of tissue from the cornea to reshape it. You’ll hear a steady clicking sound as the laser is operating. You’re also likely to smell a mild odor due to the tissue removal. The flap is then laid back into place, covering the area where the corneal tissue was removed. No stitches are necessary.

During the procedure, Dr. Petermann will use a computer to adjust the laser for your particular prescription. The higher your prescription, the more time the surgery will take.

Q. How deep does the laser go?

A. The laser only removes a small amount of tissue, usually less than 10% of the corneal thickness.

Q. What prevents me from blinking during the process?

A. A special device called a speculum is used to prevent you from blinking. It does not cause any pain.

Q. What happens if I move my eye during the procedure?

A. It is not uncommon for patients to move their eye during the procedure. A little movement does not cause any undue risk or danger to your eye, and Dr. Petermann can stop the laser at any time during the procedure. He will ask you to concentrate on a red light. If you move your eye too much, the laser will automatically shut down. After you are in position again, Dr. Petermann will restart the laser, and it picks up where it left off. The laser is also able to track eye movements.

Q. Is LASIK painful?

A. The procedure itself is painless. Your eyes will be numbed with eye drops, and no general anesthetic is necessary. A small percentage of patients do experience some discomfort after the procedure—often described as if an eyelash is in their eye. An over-the-counter pain medication usually helps with any discomfort. You will also be given eye drops to counteract any potential dryness you may experience after the procedure.

Q. How quickly will my vision improve?

A. Your vision usually improves immediately after treatment. You will typically notice dramatic visual results within the first 24 hours following the procedure, but your vision can continue to improve for the next six months. (Although you may experience fluctuations in your vision for several days after the procedure, this will usually stabilize after the first week.)

Q. What will my recovery be like?

A. Your eyes may tear and have a “gritty” feeling, as if there is a foreign body in them. They may also be sensitive to light. These symptoms will diminish over a few days. It is also normal to experience a glare as your eyes heal. Taking all of your medications as directed will help relieve any discomfort.

Q. Will I have to wear a patch?

A. No, but Dr. Petermann will give you plastic eye shields to wear for the remainder of the day and through the night. You may remove them the next morning, unless otherwise instructed. You should also wear your eye shields at bedtime for the first week.

Q. What other post-procedure instructions should I follow?

A. Once at home after your LASIK procedure, you should follow these instructions:

  • Try to rest, and keep both eyes closed as much as possible
  • Take precautions not to get your eyes wet when you shower or bathe for the first two days
  • Take your medications exactly as prescribed
  • No swimming, hot tubs or saunas for two weeks
  • No eye makeup for the first week after the procedure
  • Do not rub or bump your eyes for the first week

During the next few days after your procedure, you should follow these instructions:

  • Although an eye infection is rare, be careful not to get anything in your eyes during the first week, including soap and water
  • Wear eye protection for contact sports or any other activity where you could bump your eyes
  • Protect your eyes from sun radiation with a good pair of sunglasses that provide UV protection. Heavy UV exposure can burn your eyes and cause regression problems any time during the first year
  • Contact Dr. Petermann’s office immediately if you experience any change in your symptoms or notice a decrease in your vision
  • Keep all of your follow-up appointments

Q. How long will I have to miss work?

A. Most patients are able to return to work—and resume most of their normal daily activities—the day after the procedure.

Q. What kind of results can I expect?

A. While LASIK has proven overwhelmingly successful in reducing the dependence on glasses and contact lenses, the degree of improvement may vary among individuals. How well and how quickly your vision improves depends on how well you heal and the severity of your prescription. However, most patients with mild to moderate prescriptions achieve 20/20 vision—or are within one or two lines on the eye chart. This means you no longer need glasses or contacts to drive, play sports, or watch movies or TV. But you may still need reading glasses because LASIK cannot correct presbyopia (aging of the eye), which occurs around age 40. Reading glasses may be required for clear, close vision. In addition, LASIK will not prevent you from developing naturally occurring eye problems, such as glaucoma, cataracts, retinal degeneration or detachment.

Q. What are the long-term effects?

A. Laser vision correction has been conducted since the late 1980s with more than one million procedures performed. All studies indicate that the integrity of the eye is maintained. The incidence of long-term problems is low. (If you are going to develop a problem, it typically occurs within the first year and usually much sooner than that).

Q. How soon after pregnancy or nursing can I have the procedure done?

A. Two months after pregnancy or nursing, your prescription should be stable enough for the procedure. Dr. Petermann will test for stability at your pre-op exam.

Q. What if I am hoping to get pregnant?

A. If you have an uncomplicated LASIK procedure, you can get pregnant at four weeks post-op (or later), and it will not affect the healing process. If you were to get pregnant four weeks or more after the procedure, and then it was determined that you needed a re-treatment, you would need to wait for the re-treatment. In the meantime, you might need to wear soft contacts or glasses to gain your best-corrected vision until the time of treatment.

Q. What are the risks?

A. As with any medical procedure, LASIK does have risks. However, the incidence of complications has been documented in a number of clinical studies to be low. Some potential complications can include dryness, increased sensitivity to light, night glare or haloes, irregular astigmatism, under correcting or over correcting, complications in making the surgical flap and loss of best-corrected vision. These complications occur in less than one percent of procedures. Dr. Petermann will discuss any possible risks with you during your examination and determine if LASIK surgery is appropriate for you and your specific vision needs.

Q. What does LASIK cost?

A. LASIK is reasonably affordable at South Georgia Eye Partners because our prices have remained the same. It can actually pay for itself by replacing the cost of glasses and/or contacts within a few years. The fee includes all of your pre-op appointments and post-op follow-up care. Also, if you need an enhancement within one year, the cost is included in your original fee.

Q. Is a payment plan available?

A. We offer CareCredit, a monthly payment plan for qualified patients. Learn More at CareCredit.com

Q. Can I claim the procedure on my income tax?

A. The procedure fee may be tax deductible, depending on your personal tax situation. You should consult your accountant for more information. Often LASIK can be paid for with tax-free dollars through an employer’s flexible spending account.

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Q. What is a cataract?

A. A cataract is a clouding of the normally clear lens of the eye and is a common cause of decreased vision. The clouding in the lens disrupts transmission of light through the lens, causing vision to be blurred, dark and distorted.

Q. How are cataracts removed?

A. If cataracts are present, surgery may be recommended; cataract surgery is one of the safest and most effective types of surgery.

Q. What can I expect during cataract surgery?

A. Cataract surgery is an outpatient procedure that only takes a few hours. When you arrive, your eyes may be treated with eye drops and anesthetic to minimize any discomfort during the operation. During this routine operation, a small incision is made in the eye and a tiny instrument, about the size of a pen tip, is used to remove your clouded lens.

If you have cataracts on both eyes, you will have surgery on the second eye within two weeks of the first eye.

Q. What are premium lens implants? How is this different from regular cataract surgery?

A. Premium lens implants are used in conjunction with cataract surgery to help with distance, near and intermediate vision. In the past, regular cataract surgery only treated a patient’s cataracts; therefore, they would still be dependent on glasses for most of their daily activities. Premium lens implants correct more than just your cataracts. The procedure offers results with a fuller range of vision – and can reduce or eliminate your dependence on glasses.

Q. How do I know if I am a good candidate for premium lens implants?

A. If your eyes are healthy, you have not had previous cataract surgery and you have no major health problems, you may be an excellent candidate for premium lens implants. Dr. Petermann will perform a thorough exam and advise which type of premium lens implant is right for you.

Q. How long is recovery time?

A. Dr. Petermann will advise you based on your procedure. Typically, he will see you one day after surgery, after 2-4 weeks and again around 3-6 months after surgery. Thereafter, an annual exam is sufficient.

* Information provided by our partners at ReSTOR and Crystalens.

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Q. When should children have their eyes examined?

A. Children should have their first eye exam between the ages of 6 and 12 months. The first exam usually tests for excessive or unequal amounts of nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism, eye movement ability and overall eye health.

By age three, your child needs a through optometric examination to make sure his or her vision is developing properly and there is no evidence of eye disease. Unless advised otherwise, the child’s next examination should be at 5 years of age. During these preschool years, parents should be on alert for common eye problems such as “crossed” eyes or “lazy” eye.

School-age children should receive comprehensive eye exams yearly unless recommended otherwise. Vision problems identified during this time may need to be corrected with either eyeglasses or contact lenses.

Q. When should adults have eye exams?

A. Adults up to 40 years old should see an Optometrist every two years. If you are at risk for eye problems due to a family history of eye disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, past vision problems or if you are experiencing eye strain, you may need to schedule exams more frequently.

Adults age 60 and beyond, should schedule annual eye exams. A number of eye diseases that can permanently change your vision become present as the eye begins to age. Common vision disorders include age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, retinal detachment, cataracts, glaucoma, and dry eye. Other medical problems such as high blood pressure and diabetes as well as any prescription medications can also have an effect on your vision.

In instances of patients who experience low vision, South Georgia Eye Partners’ Low Vision Clinic works with each one to find which rehabilitation option works best with their lifestyle. Our team also assists patients with obtaining large type books, magazines, books-on-tape and more.

Q. What is the Optical Shop?

A. The Optical Shop is located in South Georgia Eye Partners’ Valdosta and Tifton locations. We carry the latest in designer frames and sunglasses – and have a licensed optician who provides expert fittings and selection advice. Our designer frames for children and adults include Costa Del Mar, Perry Ellis, Cazal, Caviar, Randy Jackson, Fendi and more.

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* Other sources: American Optometric Association