LASIK Eye Surgery
LASIK, which stands for laser in-situ keratomileusis, is a popular surgery used to correct vision in people who are nearsighted, farsighted, or have astigmatism.
Cornea Specialists are ophthalmologists perform LASIK, custom LASIK, Intralase, LASEK, PRK, CK, Intacs, Keratoconus, corneal transplantation and other corneal and refractive surgery procedures.
What is LASIK Vision Correction Surgery?
LASIK stands for laser-assisted in-situ keratomileusis and is a vision correction operation that repairs particular vision problems, decreasing or removing the need for corrective lenses or eyeglasses.
LASIK is the most frequently performed type of refractive surgery, which means the shape of the dome-shaped transparent tissue (cornea) at the front of the eye is altered. An ophthalmic surgeon performs LASIK surgery, and the objective is to supply sharper, clearer vision. This can be accomplished when light rays are bent (refracted) to focus more accurately on the retina as opposed to bending at some point past or short of the retina, so in other words, the surgeon reshapes the cornea with a laser. Most patients have LASIK surgery on both eyes on the same day and are able to return to work or normal activities one to two days later. Vision improves immediately, and may continue becoming better for up to a year after surgery.
Why Have LASIK Vision Correction Surgery?
Before choosing vision correction surgery a physician will likely recommend trying other forms of vision correction such as contact lenses or glasses, but LASIK surgery may be an option for patients with vision problems including:
- Nearsightedness (myopia)—Light rays focus in front of the retina and blur distant vision, when the eyeball is a bit longer than usual or when the cornea curves too sharply.
- Farsightedness (hyperopia)—Light rays focus behind the retina and blur near vision and sometimes even distant vision as well, when they eyeball is a bit shorter than usual or when the cornea is too flat.
- Astigmatism—The focus of near and distant vision is blurred when the cornea curves or flattens unevenly.
Around 80 percent of the adult population in the U.S.are candidates for LASIK vision correction surgery. Aside from the common vision problems mentioned above, other key traits shared by candidates include:
- 18 years or older in age
- Have active lifestyle
- Cannot or prefer not to wear corrective lenses or glasses
- Are generally healthy
Other medical requirements for LASIK surgery include strong tear production and thick corneas.
Risks and Complications of LASIK Vision Correction Surgery
The large majority of patients who choose LASIK over other vision correction options experience no long term complications, and as technology has majorly increased over the years, LASIK is now considered a relatively simple and low risk procedure As with any surgery however, possible risks and complications exist, and those associated with LASIK eye surgery include:
- Undercorrections—The laser might remove too little tissue from the eye. Vision will not be as clear as desired post-surgery, and additional refractive surgery may be needed within a year.
- Overcorrections—The laser might remove too much tissue from the eye. This could be more difficult to repair than undercorrections.
- Astigmatism—The laser might remove the tissue unevenly from the eye. This could cause glare, halos, double vision, or difficulty seeing at night.
- Visual changes or loss—A patient could experience vision loss due to surgical complications, but this occurs very rarely. Some patients may not see as clearly or sharply as they did before surgery.
- Vision regressing to pre-surgery vision—Eyes may return, over time, to the level of vision before surgery. This could occur due to abnormal wound healing, pregnancy, or hormonal imbalances.
- Dry eyes—A temporary reduction in tear production may occur after surgery. During the healing process and the first six months after surgery, the eyes may feel uncharacteristically dry, which can potentially decrease the quality of vision. An ophthalmologist may recommend eye drops during this time, or it is possible a patient will need a special procedure to put plugs in the tear ducts to keep tears from draining away from the eyes’ surface.
- Flap Problems—During LASIK surgery, the flap of the front of the eyes is folded back or removed, which can potentially cause infections excess tears, and inflammation. During the healing process, the outermost (epithelial) corneal tissue layer may abnormally grow below the flap.
- Certain health conditions that increase the risk of the above mentioned LASIK surgery complications and risks include:
- Certain eye conditions like keratoconus, keratitis, uveitis, herpes simplex affecting the eye area, glaucoma, cataracts, lid disorders or eye injuries.
- Autoimmune disorders, like rheumatoid arthritis.
- Persistent dry eyes.
- Immunodeficiency conditions from immunosuppressive medications or HIV.
- Unstable vision from pregnancy, breast-feeding, hormonal changes, medications, or age.
What to Expect Before LASIK Vision Correction Surgery
Before LASIK surgery a patient should stop wearing their contact lenses and switch to glasses for at least a few weeks prior to surgery. Depending on the patient the ophthalmologist will set these guidelines. Stop using eye makeup, creams, perfumes, or lotions the day before and the day of surgery. The patient should also arrange for someone to drive them home following surgery, and the patient should be fully aware of what the surgery is going to cost them. As most insurance companies consider LASIK an elective surgery, the patient will most likely need to pay for the surgery out of pocket.
Prior to surgery the doctor should discuss the risks and benefits of LASIK, patient expectations, prepare the patient for before and after surgery, and answer any questions the patient may have.
A pre-surgical eye exam will be required for a doctor to acquire a patient’s full medical and surgical history and provide a comprehensive eye exam, during which the doctor will assess the patient’s vision, any signs of eye infection, inflammation, high eye pressure, dry eyes, large eye pupils, or any other possible eye conditions. The doctor will also measure the cornea, making note of the contour, shape, thickness, and anything irregular. The doctor will analyze which parts of the cornea require reshaping by the laser and will employ tests to establish the exact amount of tissue that needs removal.
What to Expect During LASIK Vision Correction Surgery
LASIK vision correction surgery typically takes thirty minutes or less. The patient lies on their back in a reclining chair any may be administered medicine for relaxation. Numbing drops will be put in the eyes, and then the doctor will attach an instrument to hold the eyes open. Right before cutting the corneal flap with the laser, a suction ring is placed on the eye, which may induce a feeling of pressure and dim the vision a bit.
The eye surgeon uses a cutting laser or small blade to cut away from the front of the eye a hinged flap about the size of a corrective lens. This enables the surgeon entrance to the part of the cornea that needs reshaping.
The surgeon then reshapes particular areas of the patient’s cornea with the laser, and when reshaping is complete, the surgeon folds the flap back in place. Typically the flap heals without stitches.
The patient may notice a prominent odor similar to the smell of burning hair, while the laser removes corneal tissue. Generally, if a patient needs LASIK in both eyes, a doctor will perform the surgery on the same day for both.
What to Expect After LASIK Vision Correction Surgery
Following surgery, eyes may burn, itch, and become watery. The patient will most likely experience blurred vision, a small amount of pain, but will recover vision speedily. A doctor may prescribe pain medication or eye drops to keep the patient at ease after the procedure, and the patient may also be asked to wear a shield over their eyes at night until healed.
Directly after surgery a patient’s vision will not be completely clear, but they will be able to see. Usually, it takes two to three months post surgery for the eyes to completely heal, but the patient will have a follow-up appointment with the surgeon one to two days after surgery. The surgeon will recommend plans for other follow-up appointments six months after surgery.
The patient may not be able to use cosmetics around the eyes for a few weeks, and a patient should follow the doctor’s advice on how quickly they can resume their normal activities. A patient will probably need to refrain from participating in strenuous contact sports, and using swimming pools or hot tubs for several weeks following LASIK vision correction surgery.
Outcome of LASIK Vision Correction Surgery
The chances for improved vision depend, in part, on the patient’s level of vision before surgery. Ultimately, refractive surgery provides increased vision without the inconvenience of glasses or contact lenses. In general, patients have a very likely chance of attaining 20/25 vision or better following refractive surgery.
Over eighty percent of patient’s who have undergone LASIK vision correction surgery no longer need to use contact lenses or glasses for the predominance of their activities.
Results are contingent on a patient’s particular refractive error and other factors, but people with a low grade of nearsightedness tend to see the most favorable outcomes with LASIK surgery. Patients with a high level of nearsightedness or farsightedness along with astigmatism have less foreseeable outcomes.
Other Forms of Vision Correction Surgery