LASIK laser eye surgery has proven to be a popular alternative for correcting blurred vision caused by refractive error. Through LASIK refractive surgery, people who normally wear glasses or contact lenses can achieve clear vision without depending on these optical aids.
What is LASIK Surgery For?
LASIK surgery is a form of surgical vision correction that aims to reduce your dependency on glasses or contact lenses. It can correct vision affected by myopia (short-sightedness), hyperopia (long-sightedness), and astigmatism.
Should I Consider LASIK Surgery?
Laser eye surgery procedures are primarily for people who have blurry vision for distant objects. If your vision problems are only for near work, such as you have normal vision for long distances but wear reading glasses for close work, laser vision correction is less likely to be worthwhile for you.
You may consider laser eye surgery if you want to stop wearing contact lenses or glasses for any reason. For example, some people are unable to wear contact lenses yet find glasses cosmetically unappealing or impractical to play contact sports.
How Does LASIK Eye Surgery Work?
LASIK laser eye surgery stands for laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis. It is a type of refractive surgery based on reshaping the corneal tissue. The cornea is the clear bubble at the front surface of the eye over the coloured iris.
In an eye with refractive error, such as short-sightedness, light rays are not focused sharply onto the retina as they pass through the cornea and the lens. By removing highly precise, microscopic amounts of corneal tissue, refractive laser eye surgery can change the way these rays bend through the cornea, ensuring that light focuses properly onto the retina for sharp vision.
Steps of the LASIK Procedure
LASIK laser eye surgery is an elective procedure performed under topical anaesthetic eye drops. If you’re feeling anxious or restless, your eye surgeon can offer you a mild sedative to help you relax.
Once you’re comfortable and in position in the laser suite, the surgeon will create a corneal flap out of the upper layers of the cornea, including the corneal epithelium and some of the deeper stromal layers. This thin flap can be cut by using either a manual instrument or using a tool known as a femtosecond laser.
By opening this flap to the side, another laser beam called an excimer laser removes specific amounts of tissue. The amount and areas of cornea subject to the laser treatment are guided by a computer as determined by your biometric measurements taken at your initial consultation.
After the excimer laser has finished reshaping the cornea, the flap is put back in place and allowed to self-seal.
Other Types of Refractive Surgery
In addition to LASIK surgery, other techniques of refractive eye surgery exist. This can be valuable for patients wishing to pursue vision correction surgeries but are unsuitable for LASIK for one reason or another.
Other techniques of laser vision correction include:
- PRK laser surgery (photorefractive keratectomy)
- SMILE laser surgery (small incision lenticule extraction)
Surgery procedures not dependent on corneal reshaping include:
- RLE (refractive lens exchange)
- ICL (implantable contact lenses)
Recovery After LASIK Surgery
Within hours after LASIK laser eye surgery, you may find your vision is already much sharper compared to your previous natural eyesight without your glasses or contact lenses. Despite this improvement, still expect some degree of unstable vision over the following weeks as the cornea continues through the healing process.
You can also expect to feel some dryness, soreness, or grittiness in your eyes. It’s also common to notice glare sensitivity. Mild pain can be managed using analgesia; check with your surgeon which medications would be appropriate. If your eyes feel dry and gritty, you can use lubricating eye drops.
Your eye surgeon will prescribe you certain drops, including one to manage inflammation and one to prevent infection.
Post-Laser Eye Surgery Guidelines
Following some general guidelines can help to enhance your recovery.
- Use all your drops as prescribed
- Rest as long as needed
- Avoid contact sports and other risky or rough activities
- Keep unsterile water away from your eyes, including at the pool and beach
- Attend your follow-up appointments
- Avoid cosmetics and products around your eyes
At your follow-up appointment, your doctor will check your vision and that your eyes are healing normally. If, prior to this appointment, you notice unusual vision changes or vision loss, have severe pain in the eye or any discharge, contact your doctor immediately.
Am I Eligible for the LASIK Procedure?
Prior to undergoing laser eye surgery, your surgeon will need to establish that LASIK surgery is suitable and safe for you.
Factors that May Exclude You From LASIK Eye Surgery
LASIK laser eye surgery may carry a higher risk of possible complications or be impractical if you have any of the following characteristics:
- Other vision problems that restrict your best-corrected vision. This can include cataracts, lazy eye, or glaucoma (high eye pressure)
- Thin corneas. As LASIK laser eye surgery requires cutting a corneal flap, this already reduces the remaining amount of cornea available for reshaping by the excimer laser
- Poor corneal health, including recurrent infections or a condition involving severe dry eye called Sjogren’s syndrome
- Other concerns with your medical history, including immune system compromise or uncontrolled rheumatic conditions
If you’re found to be ineligible for the LASIK procedure, you may still be suitable for a different procedure, such as PRK or implantable contact lenses.
Risks and Complications
LASIK laser eye surgery is considered to be safe and effective but still comes with a low risk of side effects or complications.
Common short and longer-term side effects can include:
- Dry eyes
- Glare sensitivity
- Double vision
Other risks for LASIK eye surgery can include:
- Over or under-correcting your vision prescription
- Flap-related complications
- The possibility of vision loss
Note: Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.
LASIK eye surgery.