LASIK is one of the most common types of refractive surgery. Using targeted excimer laser beam energy, the LASIK procedure reshapes corneal tissue to correct refractive errors so that light rays are focused more precisely on the retina to produce clear, sharp vision. Patients who choose to undergo LASIK achieve clear vision without the need for glasses or contact lenses, while also benefiting from minimal downtime and little to no post-operative discomfort.
Candidates for LASIK
LASIK is considered a safe procedure, yet it is not ideal for everyone. A thorough medical evaluation of the patients eyes will be performed in order to determine if the LASIK or another type of procedure like PRK or lens exchange is more appropriate.
Candidates eligible for the LASIK procedure include patients who meet the following requirements:
- Young adults with stable prescription
- Not pregnant or nursing
- In general good health
- Do not have cataracts
- Has a healthy cornea thick enough for a flap
- Has refractive errors that fall within the treatable range
It is also important for patients to fully understand the details and risks of the procedure, and maintain realistic expectations as to the outcome of the procedure.
The LASIK Procedure
LASIK is an outpatient procedure; numbing eye drops are used to avoid discomfort during the procedure. The entire surgery takes less than five minutes to perform, although patients can expect to spend a couple of hours at the laser center. If requested, patients can receive an oral sedative prior to surgery to reduce anxiety.
During the LASIK procedure, the patient will lie down in a reclining chair as the doctor positions the laser precisely over the eye. A speculum will be used to keep the eye open, the eye is cleaned and numbing drops are placed. A corneal flap is created with a special blade. The surgeon gently lifts the flap aside so that the excimer laser can then reshape the curvature of the cornea.
Customized pulses of excimer laser is used to reshape the cornea based on each patient’s prescription. The measurements for customization are determined prior to surgery. The second eye is usually treated right after the first, protective shields are then used to keep the eyes safe from trauma and bright lights.
Recovery After the LASIK Procedure
After LASIK, patients will rest in the office for a short time before having someone escort them home. Medication may be prescribed to relieve any discomfort, but most patients tolerate this procedure well. The doctor will likely recommend rest and most patients are able to return to work and other regular activities the next day. Swimming and certain strenuous activities should be avoided for at least a week.
The doctor will provide specific post-operative instructions to ensure proper healing and to help patients achieve the best possible vision.
Vision Results from the LASIK Procedure
Although it may take several months for the vision to stabilize, significant visual improvement is noticeable immediately after the LASIK procedure. Most patients achieve vision that is 20/20 or better, and are able to reduce or eliminate the need for glasses or contact lenses.
While patients can achieve clear vision from LASIK, this procedure does not prevent the development of presbyopia, the age-related vision changes that occur after the age of 40. Many patients will need reading glasses for this condition, but their distance vision will remain clear until cataract development in later years.
Risks and Complications of the LASIK Procedure
Any surgical procedure carries the possibility of risks and complications. LASIK is considered safe for most patients who are considered ideal candidates. While rare, some of the complications that may occur, after the LASIK procedure, include:
- Dry eyes syndrome
- Flap complications
- Sensitivity to light
- Night Glare
- Permanent Loss of Vision
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