Vision Correction: LASIK
“Laser–Assisted In Situ Keratomileusis” surgery–abbreviated LASIK— uses a laser beam to physically reshape the cornea. The cornea is the clear, dome shaped cover over the outer part of your eye that helps to focus light and create an image on the retina. The cornea works in much the same way that the lens of a camera helps to focus light and create an image on film. Many people have imperfections in their cornea causing blurred vision that needs correction. Nearsighted, farsighted and astigmatic patients may potentially benefit from LASIK surgery. LASIK has become a popular method of vision correction that is relatively painless and offers good vision almost immediately after surgery.
Are You a Good Candidate for LASIK?
While over a million people have benefited from LASIK surgery, it is not right for every one. In order to decide whether you’re a good candidate for LASIK, your eye doctor will give you a thorough eye examine to determine the health of your eyes and what kind of vision correction you need.
There are limits to what LASIK surgery can do. Some people have such poor eyesight that this procedure would not provide them with improved vision. After a routine eye exam your eye doctor will be able to tell you if you qualify.
LASIK is intended to reduce a candidate’s dependency on glasses or contact lenses. While it is true that the procedure can completely eliminate the need for corrective lenses in many patients, it is not a realistic expectation in all cases. Establishing realistic expectations before the procedure is the key to satisfaction.
The ideal candidate for the procedure will:
- Have a nearsighted refractive error of -1.00 or greater or
- Have a farsighted refractive error of +1.00 to +4.00
- Be over 18 years of age
- Have had a prescription that has not changed significantly over the past 12 months
- Have healthy corneas
- Be in general good health
- Have realistic expectations
LASIK surgery is a relatively simple procedure. The surgery is done in an office setting and takes very little time. You will be able to walk into the surgery center, have the procedure done and walk out again. It takes approximately ten minutes or less, per eye, to complete the procedure. The actual exposure time to the laser is usually less than thirty seconds per eye.
Before the surgery, your doctor may give you a mild oral sedative to help you relax. Your eyes will be “numbed” with eye drops, leading most patients to report only a slight feeling of “pressure” on the eye. Your doctor will only work on one eye at a time, although both eyes can be treated on the same day. Having both eyes done during the same visit can mean fewer days off of work, minimal “down-time” and less imbalance between the eyes. However, the choice is yours.
After the procedure is finished, you will rest for a short time before going home. Typically, patients are able to see immediately after the procedure. However, your vision may be “foggy” for the first several hours and improve gradually. It’s a good idea to have someone available to drive you home after your surgery. Most patients are able to drive the morning after the procedure.
Like any surgery, there is a recovery time. Although your vision may be sharper immediately following surgery, your vision will continue to improve over time. It is important to follow your doctor’s post-operative instructions, get proper rest, and call your doctor immediately if you suspect a problem.
You may be able to return to work the next day, but many doctors recommend taking a couple of days off to rest. Patience and close adherence to your doctor’s post-operative instructions are important to the healing process.
If your prescription is stable, it is believed that the result of your procedure will be permanent. But it is important to remember that your eyes may change internally, either due to aging or other factors. These internal changes may result in decreased vision that is unrelated to the cornea and your LASIK procedure.