LASIK stands for Laser-Assisted In Situ Keratomileusis and it’s a form of refractive eye surgery that uses an ultraviolet laser to re-shape the cornea.
Why Would I Need Lasik?
Refractive vision problems are caused by a misshapen eyeball, cornea or lens and there are three basic types: • Myopia or nearsightedness (objects close to you are blurry). • Hyperopia or farsightedness (objects far away from you are blurry). • Astigmatism, where objects are blurry at a range of distances. LASIK and other forms of refractive surgery correct the eye's refractive error permanently and eliminate the need for glasses or contact lenses.
Am I a Good Candidate for LASIK Eye Surgery?
Generally speaking, good candidates for LASIK eye surgery are at least 18 years old, in good general health and have no eye diseases such as cataracts or glaucoma. You should also have fairly stable vision, meaning roughly the same prescription for your glasses or contacts for the last year or two. The easiest way to know if you’re a good candidate? Have an eye doctor do an eye test to see if your eye is healthy enough to undergo the procedure and to see if there are any major obstacles, such as excessive dryness, thin corneal tissue or an abnormal corneal curvature. If you have severe Myopia, you might be better suited to another form of refractive surgery because too much corneal tissue would need to be removed to do the procedure safely.
How does LASIK Surgery Work?
Even though the surgery itself doesn’t take very long, LASIK is still an intricate and sensitive procedure and and it's important to have it done by a skilled surgeon with the right equipment. The basic operation essentially revolves around making a thin flap in the outer layer of the cornea (with either a microkeratome, a small oscillating blade or a femtosecond laser) so the tissue underneath can be reshaped. Once the flap has been made, the surgeon folds it out of the way and then uses an ultraviolet light beam (the excimer laser) to remove pieces of tissue from the cornea. When the cornea is reshaped properly, light is focused properly into the eye and onto the retina (this is essentially what glasses or contacts do). LASIK eye surgery normally takes less than 30 minutes and numbing eye drops will be applied to your eyes so you don't feel any discomfort.
What are Other Types of LASIK Surgeries?
PRK (Photorefractive Keratectomy)
PRK differs from LASIK surgery in that instead of a flap made in the outer layer of the cornea, the upper cells of the cornea are removed. The surgeon still uses an excimer laser to reshape the cornea, but overall less of the cornea shape is changed. People with thin corneas (who are more at risk with normal LASIK surgery) typically opt for this procedure.
Custom Wavefront LASIK
This procedure uses Wavefront technology to map the cornea in detail and allow for more precision in its shaping. Basically a wavefront device beams a ray of light into your eye which is then reflected back through the retina and pupil. The reflected wave is then used to make a 3D map of all of your visual imperfections. The overall idea is then to use that map and a computer-guided laser to not only improve your visual acuity but, because it is so precise and digs deeper into the irregularities in your vision, also improve the depth and sensitivity of your vision. Compared to normal LASIK surgery, the results tend to indicate fewer problems post-LASIK, including less trouble with night vision, “halos” and glare. But because of its preciseness and level of detail, Custom Wavefront LASIK costs quite a bit more than traditional LASIK.
LASEK stands for Laser-Assisted Sub Epithelial Keratectomy and is virtually the same procedure as LASIK surgery but with the main difference being the thickness of the flap created. A LASEK procedure only cuts the upper epithelial layer off the surface of the eye while a LASIK procedure cuts into both the epithelial layer and the stroma layer. The cornea is still reshaped with the excimer laser and the flap is laid back down afterwards.
What is Bladeless LASIK?
The major difference with Bladeless LASIK eye surgery is the use of a laser instead of a blade to make the corneal flap. The laser creates a layer of bubbles under the surface of the cornea which lets the surgeon lift the flap back without using a blade. The bladeless procedure reduces possible complications from cutting into the cornea.
What are Possible LASIK Complications?
LASIK carries fairly slight risks of either short- and long-term complications. Most people respond well to treatment and permanent problems are very rare. The most common LASIK complications include: • Dry eyes • Visual fluctuations • Halos around sources of light • Light sensitivity • Slight vision haziness or glare • Complications with the corneal flap Most LASIK complications can be treated and usually clear up within a few months. As with any surgical procedure, you can also decrease your risk of complications by the level of experience of your surgeon. Your doctor should look for all risk factors prior to surgery and discuss any concerns with you before agreeing to the procedure. See more on LASIK eye surgery costs here.