Lasik What is Lasik?
Lasik stands for laser assisted in-situ keratomileusis. It is widely considered as the procedure of choice for correction of most cases of myopia. Lasik sometimes is called the ³flap and zap´ procedure. It combines an established cutting technique using a cutting device called the microkeratome with the more recently developed excimer laser technique. First a circular superficial cornea flap is made with the help of the mircokeratome. Next the flap is folded back to allow the excimer laser to reshape the deeper layers of the cornea according to the patient¶s spectacles prescription. The flap is then folded back and will adhere itself naturally without the need for stitches.
FAQ 1)What is laser vision correction? It is a surgical procedure that uses a cool (non-thermal) beam of light to gently reshape the cornea ² the surface of the eye ² to improve vision. The laser removes microscopic bits of tissue to flatten the cornea (for nearsightedness), steepen the cornea (for farsightedness), and/or smooth out corneal irregularities (for astigmatism). The goal of laser eye surgery is to change the shape the cornea so it does a better job of focusing images onto the retina, for sharper vision. LASIK and PRK are two types of laser vision correction. 2)Are LASIK and PRK safe? The FDA recognizes LASIK and PRK as proven, safe and effective. Laser vision correction uses a cool (non-thermal) beam of light controlled by a computer. The surgeon is able to turn the laser on or off at any moment. There are many safeguards in place to reduce the risk of error. Although no one knows the exact number of complications, studies suggest that the incidence of minor difficulties such as dry eyes and nighttime glare is around 3% to 5%, while the risk of serious incidents such as lost vision is thought to be less than 1%. There are no known cases of blindness from LASIK or PRK. Read more about outcomes and complications. 3)Can I have both eyes done at the same time? Most surgeons perform LASIK on both eyes at the same time. Because it takes longer for clear, comfortable vision after PRK, many surgeons will wait a week or two between eyes for PRK. 4)How is eye laser surgery different from previous types of refractive eye surgery? Current FDA-approved laser vision correction methods, such as LASIK (laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis), have a higher predictability of the final result with a lower incidence of complications. Additionally, older techniques typically involved manually performed incisions rather than automated lasers for correction.
5)Does laser vision correction hurt? During LASIK or PRK, your surgeon will place anesthetic drops in your eye. Afterwards, he or she may prescribe medication if necessary. Many LASIK patients report no more than mild discomfort for a day or so ² often it's an itchy feeling. There is more discomfort after PRK because the procedure exposes the deeper layers of the cornea. For clear and comfortable vision after PRK, protective surface cells have to grow back over the treated area. This process can take 2 weeks or longer. 6)How long does LASIK take? The laser treatment itself usually takes less than a minute, while the entire procedure takes around 15 minutes per eye. 7)What happens before laser eye surgery? Your eyecare practitioner will give you a thorough eye examination to make sure your eyes are healthy and you're a suitable laser vision correction candidate. He or she will test for glaucoma, cataracts and other disqualifying conditions. He or she will also use a machine called a corneal topographer to photograph and electronically map your eye. The surgeon will use this map to plan your surgery for the most precise results possible. 8)What happens on the day of treatment? LASIK and PRK are outpatient procedures. You'll need to spend around an hour at the surgeon's office. Someone else should drive you home, since your vision might be a little blurry right after surgery. You'll lie down in a reclining chair. The surgeon will place anesthetic drops in your eye, position your head under the laser and place an eyelid speculum (retainer) in your eye to hold the lids open. In LASIK, the surgeon creates a thin flap in the top of the cornea, folds it back out of the way, uses the laser to remove some corneal tissue, then puts the flap back in place. If you're having PRK, the laser removes the outer layer of the cornea. 9)What happens afterward? The surgeon will place drops or ointment in your eye. You may relax for a little while, then go home and rest. You'll probably notice clearer vision immediately, and it may improve even more as the weeks go by. 10)When may I resume driving? You may begin driving as soon as you can see well enough, excluding the day you had LASIK or PRK performed. 11)Can I go back to work right away? Some people return to work the next day, but surgeons usually recommend 2 or 3 days of rest instead. 12)When may I go back to wearing makeup? You may resume wearing makeup about one week after your surgery. However, throw out your old makeup and buy new to decrease your risk of infection. 13)Are there any side effects? Some people experience dry eye, which usually is alleviated with drops and disappears over time. Others may experience starbursts or halos around lights, especially at night. Usually this effect lessens or disappears over time, too. In a small number of people (probably less than 1%), their vision worsens rather than improves.
14)How many checkups will I need after LASIK? Depending on your surgeon, you will probably return the next day, then one week or one month later and then three months later. Your doctor will let you know if more visits are necessary after that.
The LASIK Procedure: A Complete Guide
LASIK is the most commonly performed refractive surgery procedure. You may hear people calling it "LASIX," but the correct name is LASIK, which is short for "laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis." Why is it so popular? LASIK has advantages over other vision correction procedures, including a relative lack of pain afterward and the fact that good vision usually is achieved by the very next day. An instrument called a microkeratome is used in LASIK eye surgery to create a thin, circular flap in the cornea. Another, newer way of making the flap is with a laser. The surgeon folds the hinged flap back out of the way, then removes some corneal tissue underneath using an excimer laser. The excimer laser uses a cool ultraviolet light beam to precisely remove ("ablate") very tiny bits of tissue from the cornea to reshape it. When the cornea is reshaped in the right way, it works better to focus light into the eye and onto the retina, providing clearer vision than before. The flap is then laid back in place, covering the area where the corneal tissue was removed. Both nearsighted and farsighted people can benefit from the LASIK procedure. With nearsighted people, the goal is to flatten the too-steep cornea; with farsighted people, a steeper cornea is desired. Excimer lasers also can correct astigmatism by smoothing an irregular cornea into a more normal shape.
Before the LASIK Procedure
If you are considering LASIK eye surgery, your first step is to choose a LASIK surgeon. To decide whether you're a good candidate for LASIK, your eye doctor will perform an eye exam to determine if your eyes are healthy enough for the procedure, what kind of vision correction you need and how much laser ablation is required. Your doctor also will look for signs of dry eye disease, which must be treated and cleared up before LASIK can be performed. Even if your eyes have a normal tear film, your eye surgeon as a precaution may recommend treatment to reduce your risk of developing dry eyes after LASIK. Also, a corneal topographer usually is used; this device measures the curvature of your eye and creates a kind of "map" of your cornea. With new wavefront technology associated with custom LASIK, you also are likely to undergo a wavefront analysis that sends light waves through the eye to provide an even more precise map of aberrations affecting your vision. Finally, the doctor will ask you about any health problems you have or medications you take. Some health conditions will disqualify you altogether for LASIK, but others may just postpone the procedure until a later date.
During LASIK Surgery
LASIK is an ambulatory procedure ² you walk into the surgery center, have the procedure and walk out again. In fact, the actual surgery usually takes less than five minutes, and you're awake the whole time.
Want a visual? View our LASIK slide show! Occasionally, the surgeon will give you a mild oral sedative beforehand. Even though the surgery is relatively quick, LASIK is a very delicate procedure and it's important to have it performed by a highly skilled surgeon with proper equipment. You also should have someone accompany you to the surgery center and drive you home afterward. Before your LASIK begins, numbing eye drops will be applied to your eyes so you don't feel any discomfort during the procedure. The doctor will have you lie down, then make sure your eye is positioned directly under the laser. (One eye is operated on at a time.) A kind of retainer is placed under your eyelids to keep them open ² normally, this is not uncomfortable. The surgeon will use an ink marker to mark the cornea before the flap is created. The flap is then created with either a microkeratome or a femtosecond laser. Whichever device is used, it is securely attached to your cornea with a suction ring to prevent eye movements or loss of contact that could affect flap quality. During the procedure you won't actually see the creation of the flap, which is very thin.
An ultra-thin flap is created on the eye's surface during LASIK corrective eye surgery. After laser energy is applied to reshape the eye, the flap is replaced to serve as a type of natural bandage.
The surgeon uses a computer to adjust the excimer laser for your particular prescription. You will be asked to look at a target light for a short time while he or she watches your eye through a microscope as the laser sends pulses of light to your cornea. The laser light pulses painlessly reshape the cornea. You'll hear a steady clicking sound while the laser is operating. You also may smell a mild odor during the laser treatment; this is normal. The higher your prescription, the more time the surgery will take. The surgeon has full control of the laser and can turn it off at any time. After the procedure is finished, you will rest for a little while. If you're having both eyes done the same day, the surgeon typically will begin working on your second eye immediately after treatment of the first eye is finished. Some people choose to have their second eye done a week later. Your surgeon may prescribe medication for any postoperative pain, but many people feel no more than mild discomfort after LASIK. That's one advantage of LASIK over PRK, which can cause significant eye discomfort for a few days.
After LASIK: Short-Term
As with any kind of surgery, it's important that you follow your doctor's instructions to the letter. Get proper rest, use all prescribed medications as directed and call your doctor immediately if you suspect a problem. Immediately after LASIK, the doctor will have you rest for a bit, then you can go home (someone else must drive). At home, you should relax for at least a few hours. You may be able to go to work the next day, but many doctors advise a couple of days of rest instead. They also recommend no strenuous exercise for up to a week, since this can traumatize the eye and affect healing. Avoid rubbing your eye, as there is a chance (though slim) of dislodging the corneal flap.
After LASIK: Longer Term
With LASIK surgery, most people's vision improves right away, but some find that their vision gradually improves even more over the next few days or even weeks. LASIK outcomes may vary. Most people achieve 20/20 or better vision with LASIK. Some may achieve only 20/40 or not quite as good. In fact, 20/40 is fairly good vision. In most states, the law considers it good enough for driving. Some patients still need glasses or contact lenses following laser vision correction, though their prescription level typically will be much lower than before. Postoperative LASIK complications can include infection or night glare (starbursts or halos that are most noticeable when you're viewing lights at night, such as while you're driving). Rarely, people will experience clear vision after LASIK, then notice a gradual worsening of their eyesight over time (called "regression"). If this happens, discuss it with your Post-LASIK Quality of Life
In late 2009, the FDA announced it had launched a major LASIK quality of life survey in collaboration with the National Eye Institute (NEI) and the U.S. Department of Defense. One survey objective is to assess LASIK outcomes from the patient's viewpoint. Any adverse LASIK events also will be identified and evaluated, with the idea of decreasing their frequency. Three phases of the study include: y y y Design and implement a Web-based questionnaire for patients. Evaluate quality of life and satisfaction in active duty personnel treated at the Navy Refractive Surgery Center. Conduct a national multi-center clinical trial to assess outcomes of the LASIK procedure in a general patient population.
The study should be completed by the end of 2012. ² M.H. surgeon to determine if more surgery (called an enhancement or "touch-up") will be necessary. Even if you see perfectly after laser eye surgery, you may still need reading glasses or bifocal contact lenses once you hit your 40s. This is because of a condition called presbyopia, which is a normal, age-related loss of near vision. Your distance vision probably will remain crisp, but seeing up close will be more difficult. Researchers are studying ways to correct presbyopia surgically. So it's possible that when you start needing reading glasses you could have one of these presbyopia-correcting procedures performed to restore your near vision, once they are FDA-approved. These are important topics to discuss with your LASIK surgeon before deciding on the surgery.