Considered to be 2nd Generation Laser Vision Correction, Laser-Assisted In Situ Keratomileusis, also known as LASIK, is the most popular refractive surgery performed in the United States. This procedure is often used to treat patients with Myopia (nearsighted), Hyperopia (farsighted), and have astigmatism.
LASIK’s popularity stems from the pain-free and quick procedure. Typically, it only takes 15 minutes to treat both eyes. Once the surgery has been completed, the patient will notice improved vision immediately. Over the next several days, their vision will continue to improve until the eyes stabilize.
How Is The LASIK Procedure Performed?
LASIK requires the use of two lasers, one of which is a VisuMax Femtosecond Laser. This laser is used to gently create a flap at the top layer of the cornea.
The patient is then escorted to the most advanced excimer laser with state-of-the-art wave technology, the EX500 Excimer Laser. This laser reshapes the cornea under a protective layer of tissue. The EX500 Excimer laser is extremely precise and uses cool ultraviolet light to treat the cornea. At this point, Drs. Shelby and Coleman will reposition your flap back into its original position, where the healing process will begin.
Depending on the vision issue, the doctors will try to achieve different goals. Those with farsighted vision will need their cornea steepened to improve their eyesight. Nearsighted people, though, will need their cornea flattened. Patients with astigmatism, additionally, will have their misshapen corneas molded into a more typical shape.
LASIK surgery is safe and pain-free. No anesthetic is required except for topical drops in the eye. There’s also no need for bandages or stitches with LASIK.
What to Do Before LASIK Surgery
To ensure you’re an ideal candidate for LASIK eye surgery, the first step is to receive an eye exam. During this examination, your doctors will assess certain indicators of your eye’s overall health:
- The shape and thickness of your cornea
- The size of your pupil
- The tear film on the surface of your eyes
- Any refractive issues, such as astigmatism, nearsightedness, and farsightedness
- Other diagnosable eye conditions
This helps to ensure your eye is healthy enough to undergo the procedure. It also helps prevent any issues with dry eyes post-surgery.
Your doctors will also map your cornea with the help of a tool called a corneal topographer. The corneal topographer charts the precise curves at the front of your eye. You will also likely receive a wavefront analysis of your eyes. This instrument provides an even better picture of your eye and helps uncover where abnormalities exist. It’s able to do this by pushing light waves through your eye.
As the final step of determining your eligibility for the procedure, your doctors will conduct a general health survey. You’ll be asked about your medical history and whether you are currently taking any medications.
Around two weeks before your exam and your surgery, you should cease wearing contact lenses. Contact lenses can affect the shape of your cornea, which makes it difficult to identify the specific issues that require surgery.
What to Expect During LASIK
LASIK is a safe and pain-free procedure. To help reduce discomfort, your doctors will administer topical eye drops that numb your eyes. If needed to help with anxiety, your doctors may provide additional medication.
The procedure begins by positing your eye under the laser. To help keep your eyelids open, your doctors will use a tool called a lid speculum.
While the excimer laser does its work, you’ll be tasked with looking directly into a target light. Your doctors then use a microscope to watch your eye.
The excimer laser will send painless pulses of light to your cornea. This helps to mold the cornea into an ideal shape, which improves your vision.
It’s common to feel pressure on your eye during the procedures. From an auditory standpoint, you’ll also hear the standard steady click of the working laser.
Each eye only needs around five minutes to complete. With set-up and other in-procedure tasks, the whole surgery should take no more than 15 minutes.
What to Expect Immediately After LASIK Surgery
Immediately after the procedure when our patients sit up, they already notice a vast improvement in clarity and vision from before the procedure. Continual visual recovery occurs over 24 hours, and after waking from your post-op nap, there is minimal discomfort after surgery, such as a burning or itching sensation.
You’ll likely experience some blurriness or haziness at first. Both should dissipate by the next morning.
You’ll need someone to drive you home once the surgery has been completed. You won’t be approved to drive until your doctors see that your eyesight has improved enough to meet the legal standard to drive, which is usually 20/40 vision. Typically, this follow-up examination occurs the next day.
While most people will see immediate improvements in their eyesight, others may need a few days for the vision to improve and stabilize. A select few may need at least a couple of weeks for improvements to be seen.
This surgery is considered to have a minimal impact on your day-to-day routine. However, it is a good idea to rest for at least a day post-procedure. You can go to work the next day, as needed, but it’s best to shy away from anything that could affect the healing process. This includes avoiding high-intensity workouts or exercise.
Protecting your cornea is the priority over the first few days after surgery. So, you should do your best not to rub your eyes during that time period.
Improving your eyesight can have a major, positive impact on your day-to-day life. While some people only achieve 20/40 vision post-surgery, most end up with at least 20/20 visual acuity.
In some cases, eyeglasses or contact lenses may still be needed, albeit at a much lower prescription than before. As you approach your 40s, it is possible to need reading glasses, for instance.
LASIK is considered safe and reliable. However, sometimes complications can occur. Though rare, some people develop infections after their surgery. Some also experience night glare, which can create a halo-effect around bright lights. If you have any questions about the procedure, you should make sure to discuss them with your doctor. When surgery is over, it’s essential to follow their directions to help reduce the chances of needing a LASIK enhancement procedure.