Laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis (LASIK) and Photorefractive Keratectomy (PRK) are common refractive surgery techniques to eliminate or reduce the need for contacts or glasses. These procedures are very quick, usually less than 15 minutes for a bilateral procedure. The results are excellent with 98+ percent of patients able to function without glasses postoperatively.
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.
All laser vision correction surgeries work by reshaping the cornea, the clear front part of the eye, so that light traveling through it is properly focused onto the retina located in the back of the EYE. LASIK is one of a number of different surgical techniques used to reshape the cornea.
What Are the Advantages of LASIK Eye Surgery?
LASIK has many benefits, including:
- It works! It corrects vision. Around 96% of patients will have their desired vision after LASIK. An enhancement can further increase this number.
- LASIK is associated with very little pain due to the numbing drops that are used.
- Vision is corrected nearly immediately or by the day after LASIK.
- No bandages or stitches are required after LASIK.
- Adjustments can be made years after LASIK to further correct vision if vision changes while you age.
- After having LASIK, most patients have a dramatic reduction in eyeglass or contact lens dependence and many patients no longer need them at all.
What Are the Disadvantages of LASIK Eye Surgery?
Despite the pluses, there are some disadvantages to LASIK eye surgery:
- Changes made to the cornea cannot be reversed after LASIK.
- LASIK is technically complex. Problems may occur when the doctor creates the flap, which can permanently affect vision.
- LASIK can rarely cause a loss of “best” vision. Your best vision is the highest degree of vision that you achieved while wearing your contacts or eyeglasses.
What Are the Potential Side Effects of LASIK Eye Surgery?
Some patients experience discomfort in the first 24 to 48 hours after LASIK eye surgery. Other side effects, although rare, may include:
- Seeing halos around images
- Difficulty driving at night
- Fluctuating vision
- Dry eyes
Custom LASIK Surgery
Early refractive lasers used a single, broad laser beam and vision improvement resulted from a general correction and reshaping of the cornea to treat myopia, hyperopia and astigmatism (lower order aberrations).
Where these lasers were only concerned with correcting refractive problems caused by a generally misshaped corneal surface, the new custom lasers can take into consideration higher order aberrations, (very subtle imperfections) to further improve vision. These aberrations are found within the eyes entire refractive system, including the lens, retina and cornea. A small spot or scanning beam excimer laser has the ability to correct one area of the cornea slightly different than another area of the cornea. In effect this new laser system can provide a vision correction patter that is custom designed for the individual to reduce the effects of these higher order aberrations.
Custom LASIK Procedure
After the eye is numbed using eye drop anesthesia for painless surgery, and while the patient lies on her / his back, a special instrument (a microkeratome) is applied to the cornea, creating a thin flap of corneal tissue. Eye tracking is then initiated to synchronize the laser with eye movement and the laser begins reshaping the cornea.
A computer, programmed by the doctor for each person’s own correction factors, controls the laser and the sculpting of the cornea. Custom LASIK usually takes less than 30 minutes and the patient leaves shortly after the procedure. An eye shield may be placed on the eye for temporary protection and to keep you from rubbing your eye in your sleep. Medication drops are used to prevent infection and promote healing. After LASIK, patients usually return to their normal lifestyle quickly with very few restrictions during the short healing period.
After Custom LASIK, the majority of people are able to pass a driver’s license test without glasses or contacts. Many patients report an immediate improvement by the second day. With Custom LASIK, many people obtain 20 / 20 vision or better.