Everything You Wanted to Know about LASIK but Were Afraid to Ask
LASIK eye surgery is an incredibly popular type of corrective surgery. According to a 2009 report from Eye Health Statistics at a Glance, doctors perform over 700,000 LASIK procedures in the United States each year. If you are considering laser eye surgery, you probably have plenty of questions. However, if you are the least bit nervous about the procedure, asking questions about LASIK can be intimidating. Here are some of the questions you may have been too nervous to ask. We're guessing you'll be reassured by the answers.
What problems can LASIK correct?
Traditional LASIK can correct nearsightedness, farsightedness, and mild to moderate astigmatism. Custom LASIK uses advanced technology to correct higher order vision aberrations, such as glares, halos, and night vision problems, as well as severe astigmatism.
How does LASIK work?
When light bounces off an object and passes through your eye, it is first refracted, or bent, in your cornea. Then the light travels through your pupil and lens, where light is refracted again. Finally, the light focuses on your retina at the back of your eye. The retina then transmits the image to your brain. This complex process occurs in just fractions of a second.
Most vision problems occur because light is improperly refracted as it passes through the eye. In LASIK surgery, your doctor will create a flap in the surface of your eye, which enables him or her to access the cornea. Using a computer-driven laser, the surgeon will carefully reshape the cornea so that it properly refracts light.
Wait, a flap in my eye? Will I need stitches?
No. The flap is incredibly thin and will heal naturally in approximately one month.
So I won't be able to see well for a month?
Not at all! Immediately following your surgery, you may experience some blurred vision. However, you will probably recover most of your vision within the first 24 to 48 hours following surgery. Within those first two days, you may even notice the effects of the surgery; many patients have better vision in the first days of recovery than they have had in years.
How much improvement can I expect?
The results of LASIK surgery vary from patient to patient. However, many patients experience 20/20 vision or better following the procedure. Typically, patients who had mild to moderate vision problems no longer rely on corrective lenses after LASIK surgery.
Let's get back to this "flap." Will I be awake when the doctor creates it?
Yes. It is necessary to be awake during surgery so that you can focus on the corrective laser.
Wow! Doesn't that hurt?
You may experience a feeling of pressure and some mild discomfort, but few patients would call the LASIK procedure "painful." Your doctor will put numbing drops in your eyes to make the procedure more comfortable.
What about after the surgery? Will I be in pain then?
Again, you may experience some discomfort, including itchiness, a mild burning sensation, or the feeling that there is something in your eye. You may experience some mild pain, but this can typically be controlled with over-the-counter pain medication.
Are there risks to the surgery?
As with any surgical procedure, there are some risks. They include vision problems such as glares, halos, double vision, and difficulties with night vision. A few patients may suffer permanent dry eyes after LASIK surgery. In extreme cases, patients may experience total vision loss.
Are these problems common?
Definitely not! The vast majority of patients never have difficulties following LASIK surgery. Patients who do experience problems often had underlying health problems or severe vision aberrations before the surgery.
So most people are happy they had LASIK?
Yes. According to the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery, over 95 percent of patients are completely satisfied with their LASIK procedure.
Ok. How do I learn more?
Contact a LASIK surgeon in your area to find out more about laser vision correction and to find out if the procedure is right for you.
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