What Is LASIK?
LASIK eye surgery is a refractive surgery treatment that corrects refractive errors by reshaping the cornea in order to produce clear vision. LASIK stands for Laser In-Situ Keratomileusis. The procedure can treat myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), and astigmatism, and reduce patients’ dependency on contact lenses and corrective lenses. Because refractive errors impede the focusing ability of the eye, patients who suffer from these conditions experience blurred vision. LASIK surgery provides these individuals with an effective treatment option.
How Does The LASIK Procedure Work?
The procedure is quick and effective, and is a proven treatment. It begins with the creation of a hinged corneal flap; for the patient’s comfort, the eyes will first be anesthetized with topical eye drops. The flap can be created with either a surgical blade known as a microkeratome or with an IntraLase® laser, which affords greater precision and involves less chance for complications. The cornea is then reshaped using an excimer laser so that light can be properly focused onto the retina. Once the corneal tissue has been reshaped, the corneal flap will be closed and left to heal on its own.
After the procedure is complete, many patients experience immediate improved vision, although it can take up to six months for vision to stabilize. Patients can expect a short recovery period but there is usually little to no discomfort following the procedure. Follow-up exams ensure proper healing.
The procedure is designed around each patient’s individual needs. To ensure the best results possible, doctors employ advanced imaging and laser vision correction technology during the procedure, and in many cases, custom procedures can be tailored around a patient’s needs should it be necessary to deliver improved vision.
Who Is A Candidate For LASIK?
Are you a candidate? A good candidate must meet several general pre-requisites:
- Patients should be at least 18 years old
- Demonstrate no change in refraction for at least one year
- Have realistic expectations regarding the results of surgery
- Patients who have experienced an eye infection or injury in the past year should not undergo surgery
- Some conditions, such as cataracts and glaucoma, cannot be treated through laser vision correction
To determine whether or not a patient is a good candidate for LASIK surgery, the ophthalmologist will conduct a pre-LASIK eye examination. Once completed, patients should follow certain guidelines in the days and weeks preceding LASIK vision correction.
What Are The Benefits Of LASIK Surgery?
Most patients are extremely pleased with their results. Surgery benefits include improved visual activity, freedom from corrective eyewear, and possibly new career opportunities. Patients who achieve a successful outcome can eliminate their need for glasses or contact lenses, and enjoy the freedom of clear vision at all times. Patients can play sports, swim, spend a day at the beach, and participate in various activities without the restrictions that glasses and contacts bring. The surgery is a safe and effective treatment that has continued to gain popularity among patients.
What Are The Risks Of LASIK Surgery?
A small number of patients - one to five percent - experience complications. LASIK risks include sensitivity to light, haloed or glared vision, irregular astigmatism, dry eyes, loss of visual clarity, and sensitivity. Fortunately, advances in technology have dramatically reduced complications and many problems can be easily corrected with additional treatment.
What Results Can A LASIK Patient Expect?
LASIK eye surgery has become the most popular vision surgery in the country. More than one million Americans undergo LASIK each year. LASIK surgery statistics gathered by the FDA indicate that complications occur in just 1 to 5 percent of patients. In most cases, treatment provides patients with exceptional results, with many patients experiencing 20/20 vision or better following surgery. When comparing LASIK to other eye care treatments, the advantages become evident.
What Is The Cost Of LASIK?
The cost of LASIK eye surgery continues to drop as the surgery is further refined, more patients are seeking treatment, and technology continues to advance. Cost can vary based on the patient's degree of refractive error and the area of the country the procedure is performed. On average, surgery can cost in the neighborhood of $1,000 - $2,000 per eye. What many patients don't know, however, is that there are numerous financing options available that can help decrease or disperse the fee.
Custom LASIK Procedure
Custom LASIK surgery uses advanced Wavefront technology to correct visual flaws not addressed by traditional LASIK. This provides patients with vision correction tailored to address their own unique needs, often leading to better vision after the procedure has been completed. Custom LASIK eye surgery has the same mechanical components of traditional LASIK, but is fully personalized and guided by a detailed Wavefront map of your eyes.
IntraLASIK is an innovative new method in which the surgeon programs the desired depth and position of the corneal flap into a computer system prior to actual surgery, making the creation of the flap an incredibly safe and accurate procedure. The all-laser approach eliminates the need for a metal blade known as a microkeratome, and hence appeals to those who may have felt uneasy about going under the blade during LASIK surgery.
LASIK Compared To Other Laser Vision Correction Procedures
There are several different types of LASIK eye surgery procedures available, so many in fact that many consumers are unaware of the differences among each technique. Alternative laser vision correction procedures include Epi-LASIK, LASEK, PRK, SBK, Custom LASIK and IntraLASIK.
- Related: Is PRK a better option in your case?
Alternative To LASIK - ICLs
Patients who are not suitable candidates for LASIK but who are still looking for a way to permanently improve their vision have alternatives to LASIK surgery. One of the most promising of these alternatives is implantable contact lens (ICL) surgery. An ICL functions the same way regular contact lenses do, except they are surgically placed behind the iris to complement the eye's natural lens for vision improvement. Patients will not be able to feel the implantable contact lens or ICL once it is in place.
What Should You Consider When Choosing A LASIK Surgeon?
Selecting a qualified LASIK surgeon is perhaps the most important step to ensuring positive results. When choosing a surgeon, your decision should not be based solely on the cost of surgery or office location. Selecting an experienced, reputable, and qualified physician is an important factor in your outcome. Patients should choose their surgeon based on thorough research and individual concerns.
The information provided through DocShop is intended to offer prospective patients an overview of the LASIK laser eye surgery treatment. It is recommended that you contact a qualified surgeon for more details. Find a LASIK surgeon near you using DocShop's online directory.