Laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis,” or LASIK, is one of the most common eye surgeries performed in the United States.

LASIK is a refractive surgery that treats nearsightedness (myopia), farsightedness (hyperopia), and astigmatism and can free patients from the burden of wearing eyeglasses and contact lenses. The LASIK procedure takes approximately 5-10 minutes per eye, is painless, and the effects can be realized within 24 hours!

It is important to know that not everyone is a suitable candidate for LASIK surgery. For those patients, there are alternative surgeries like PRK and LASEK which provide the same visual outcomes as LASIK surgery but have slightly longer healing times and post-operative care.

How Is LASIK Surgery Performed?

Your LASIK surgeon will use a femtosecond laser or a microkeratome (mechanical surgical device) to create a thin flap in the cornea. The flap is then folded back to uncover the underlying portion of the cornea called the stroma. Next, the excimer laser, a “cold laser” that removes microscopic amounts of the corneal tissue to adjust the way light enters the eye, is used to reshape the cornea. Nearsighted patients have steep corneas that need to be flattened by the excimer laser, farsighted patients have flatter corneas that need to be steepened, and astigmatic patient’s corneas are “football-shaped” and reshaped to become more spherical.  Finally, LASIK surgery requires only eye drops for anesthesia and no stitches or sutures are needed.

 

Before LASIK Surgery

Prior to your surgery, a thorough, comprehensive dilated eye exam is performed to determine if the eyes are healthy enough to have the surgery. Some factors that are taken into consideration are:

  • • The patient’s prescription
  • • Corneal thickness
  • Pupil size
  • Topography of the cornea
  • • Tear production
  • • Family history of eye disease
  • • Pre-existing conditions like keratoconus, glaucoma, and cataracts to name a few.

 

Best Candidates

Generally speaking, the best candidates for LASIK surgery are patients that have:

  • • Moderate or mild astigmatism, hyperopia, or myopia.
  • • Relatively thick corneas.
  • • Pupils 8.0mm and below in diameter
  • • Symmetrically-shaped corneas
  • • No history of eye disease or chronic dry eye

 

How LASIK Works

Soon before your LASIK surgery begins, you will be offered a mild sedative to keep you relaxed during the procedure and numbing eye drops will be administered to alleviate any potential discomfort. The eye being operated on is held open by a lid speculum so you cannot blink during the procedure. Next, suction is applied to the same eye to keep that eye from moving during the creation of the corneal flap. This process takes less than a minute and you may feel slight pressure on the eye.

Now that the corneal flap has been created, the suction is removed from the eye, and the flap is lifted like a page in a book, still attached to the cornea. You will be asked to focus on a “fixation light” as you look up into the laser. This light’s purpose is solely to keep you looking at one fixed point so your eye doesn’t move during the surgery. As you focus on that light, pulses from the excimer laser are applied to the exposed stroma to reshape the cornea. Patients cannot feel the laser being applied to the eye. Once the reshaping of the cornea is competed, the flap is laid back down in it’s natural position, antibiotic eye drops are administered, and the procedure is completed.

 

After LASIK Surgery

You will be taken to a “post-op” area where you will relax with your eyes closed before leaving the laser center. There may be an itchy or burning sensation soon after the surgery. This is normal and will subside in time. It is important to note that you cannot drive yourself home from surgery. You may take a car service or ask a friend or family member to assist in taking you home. For the remainder of the day, you should refrain from: driving, watching television, computer use, and reading. Try to keep your eyes closed as much as possible.

After surgery you can expect some haziness or blurry vision, but your eyesight will be noticeably better the very next day and this will improve over the course of the healing process. You will need to be seen by the doctor the day after your surgery and patients frequently return to work that same day. Post-operative exams will be needed (especially during the first month after your surgery) and you will be asked to use prescription anti-biotic and anti-inflammatory eye drops along with synthetic tears for a period of time after your surgery.

 

Long-Term Results

LASIK is a safe and effective method to surgically correct visual deficiencies caused by myopia, hyperopia and astigmatism with long-lasting results.

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