LASIK eye surgery a minimally invasive procedure to improve vision
LASIK, or laser in-situ keratomileusis, surgery is used to correct nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. An example is when a person is nearsighted (myopic), his or her eye is too long, or the cornea is too steep, resulting in too much focusing power. The light rays entering the eye come in focus before hitting the retina, resulting in blurry vision when looking in the distance. The LASIK procedure, which should be done by a skilled eye surgeon, involves reshaping the cornea using an excimer laser. LASIK is replacing many of the other refractive eye surgery techniques.
A promising new technology, called wavefront-guided LASIK, provides an advanced method for measuring optical distortions in the eye. This creates an optical map of the eye, highlighting individual imperfections. Also, the wavefront technology allows the surgeon to tailor the laser beam settings for a more precise procedure. This provides sharper, better quality vision as well as a reduction in nighttime vision difficulties.
Benefits of LASIK surgery
For most people, LASIK surgery usually involves little pain and fast recovery. Other benefits may include:
- LASIK can correct a wide range of myopia, up to 15 diopters (unit of measurement of the refractive power of a lens)
- LASIK can be repeated to correct the vision further
- The eyes stabilize between three and six months after LASIK surgery
- The eye is not weakened, because only one flap is cut into the cornea
- LASIK usually causes little or no scarring of the cornea
- Post-operative care is usually limited to using eye drops for a week after surgery
How LASIK surgery is performed
Although each procedure varies slightly, in general, LASIK surgery involves using a computer-controlled excimer laser (a cold, ultraviolet laser) and a microkeratome (a surgical instrument). With these instruments, the surgeon cuts a flap in the center of the cornea to remove a thin layer of tissue. By removing the tissue, the cornea flattens, reducing myopia. The flap, which is replaced without using sutures, adheres back to the cornea within minutes.
Recovery from LASIK surgery and possible side effects
In most cases, recovery from LASIK surgery is fast and involves minimal discomfort. Mild pain relievers may be recommended by your surgeon to relieve discomfort during the first day after surgery. People often take eyedrops for a week after the procedure.
Generally, LASIK has a high success rate. However, side effects do occur. The following are the most common side effects and complications:
- Dry eyes (during the healing process)
- Eye discomfort (mostly during the first 24 hours following surgery)
- Irregular astigmatism, which can decrease the corrected vision (astigmatism means blurring caused by an irregularly shaped cornea)
- Corneal haze or glare, sensitivity to light
- Overcorrected or under corrected vision
- Inability to wear contact lenses in the future
- Loss of the corneal flap, requiring a corneal graft
- Inflammation or infection
- Blurry vision or vision loss
Discuss your eye concerns with your doctor to see if you are a good candidate for LASIK surgery.