LASIK (laser assisted in-situ keratomileusis) is the most commonly performed and well known vision correction surgery. Using an excimer laser, the doctor re-shapes the cornea (the stationary refractive element at the front of the eye) so that images are focused to the correct spot on the retina (the light receptor of the eye). The success rate with this procedure is excellent, with most patients achieving 20/20 vision or better upon completion.
The LASIK procedure itself involves little or no discomfort (or pain) both during the procedure and through the recovery process. Also, eyesight improvement is almost immediate, and maximum vision is typically achieved within a few days.
Reasons to consider LASIK:
Astigmatism (irregularly shaped cornea).
Desire to decrease or eliminate dependence on glasses or contacts.
Once the laser has been properly calibrated, your surgeon will place an eyelid holder in your eye to keep it open throughout the procedure. Your surgeon then uses a microkeratome (an automated microsurgical instrument similar in design to a carpenter’s plane) to create a corneal flap.
Once the microkeratome has been removed, the corneal flap is carefully folded back to expose the inner layer of the cornea. This stromal layer of the cornea is now ready to be re-shaped by the excimer laser.
A cool beam of light from the excimer laser is then used to precisely and gently reshaped the cornea.
Nearsighted: The cornea must be made flatter. This is accomplished by removing tissue from the center of the cornea.
Farsighted: The cornea must be made steeper. This is accomplished by directing the laser beam to remove tissue from around this area.
Astigmatism: The cornea must be made more sperical. By changing the pattern of the beam, tissue is removed in one direction more than the other.
Once the surgeon is finished, the flap is carefully put back into place and the eyelid holder is removed. Over the next few days, the flap will heal and bond more securely. The entire procedure only takes about five minutes to complete and the laser is on each eye for less than one minute for an average prescription.
The patient may go home shortly after the procedure; however, someone else must drive or alternate transportation must be arranged. Patients will be asked to get lots of rest, avoid any strenuous activities, and avoid rubbing the eye area for a period of time. There are follow up appointments with the doctor 24 to 48 hours after the procedure and periodically over the following weeks and months. Vision should dramatically improve in the first few days following surgery. The patient often may return to work in a day or two, though it is best to take a few days off to ensure a smooth recovery.