HOW IS LASIK SURGERY PERFORMED?
LASIK is done as an outpatient surgical procedure, in which they eye is anesthetized with drops. These drops may cause a slight burning sensation. A device is placed on the eyelid to prevent blinking during surgery.
To keep the eye immobile, it is attached with a ring that holds the cornea, lifting and flattening it. You will feel pressure on the eye similar to that of a finger pressing on the eyelid. From this point on, you will no longer be able to see out of that eye, until the ring is removed.
An automatic microsurgical instrument called a microkeratome is placed over ring, sliding onto the ring when activated. When this occurs, you will hear a hum from the small motor of the unit.
The microkeratome will position itself so that the Flap remains attached to the cornea.
The microkeratome-ring device is then removed and the Flap is lifted. The cornea is now ready to receive the Laser, which is programmed in advance according to the patient’s exact prescription, and centered over the eye.
While focusing the beam of light, the Laser sculpts the exposed part of the cornea. You will hear the clicking of the Laser. After the Laser has modified the shape of the cornea, the surgeon replaces the Flap in its original position and smooths the edges. The Flap takes only two to three minutes to re-join.
WHAT HAPPENS BEFORE THE SURGERY?
Before the surgery, the ophthalmologist will perform extensive analyses to ensure there is no abnormality that could affect the positive outcome of the surgery. In particular, tests will be performed to ensure there is minimal risk of postoperative dry eye syndrome, and that the pupils are not too large, which could cause future problems with night vision (halos).
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER THE SURGERY?
It is normal to feel a slight burning or itching sensation in the first few hours after the surgery. Therefore, you should plan to go home to relax, and perhaps take a short nap.
You will be given drops that will help the eye to heal, while relieving dry eye. Healing after Lasik is usually more comfortable than after other methods of refractive surgery because the Laser removes tissue from inside the cornea, and not from the surface where the tissues are more sensitive.
RISKS, COMPLICATIONS AND SIDE EFFECTS
Like any surgery, Lasik involves risks and complications that must be carefully considered. For example, it may result in corrections that fall short of, or exceed the desired correction. Fortunately, these problems can be easily fixed by wearing glasses or contact lenses, or with further surgery. However, only rarely is overcorrection permanent.
Most complications can be treated without any loss of vision, and permanent loss of vision in the eye is extremely rare. However, there is a very small risk that your vision could become worse after the surgery, without any possibility of correcting it through glasses or contact lenses. This is called loss of best corrected vision.
HOW WILL MY VISION BE AFTER LASIK?
It is important that anyone who chooses to have Lasik surgery has realistic expectations. The intervention will enable you to perform everyday tasks without requiring corrective lenses.
Most people who have Lasik achieve close to 20/20 or 20/40 vision without glasses or contact lenses. If your correction falls short of the expected correction, the surgeon may decide to perform a second procedure to improve the result.
Lasik cannot correct presbyopia, i.e. the loss of the ability to focus on objects that is normal as we get older. With or without refractive surgery, almost everybody, even if they have excellent distance vision, will need to wear reading glasses by the time they are 40 or 50. Because of this, some people prefer to have only one eye corrected, leaving the other eye slightly short-sighted. The uncorrected eye will help to improve near vision, while the other can be used for distance vision. A small percentage of people are unable to adapt, but it is possible to try out this condition before the Lasik surgery is performed, by wearing contact lenses.
WHO IS A GOOD CANDIDATE FOR LASIK?
Anyone who wants to decrease their dependence on glasses or contact lenses is a candidate for Lasik. Your lifestyle, leisure activities, and eye prescription will all help determine whether or not you are a good candidate.
The ideal candidate for Lasik is over 20 years old, is not pregnant, has no eye disease, has had no change in their eye prescription in the last year, has a refractive error that can be corrected by Lasik, and is aware of the potential risks, complications and side effects.