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LASIK Laser Eye Surgery

LASIK is eye surgery to correct nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism. The surgery is performed by an ophthalmologist using a laser. About three million procedures are performed each year. LASIK is an acronym that stands for Laser-Assisted in Situ Keratomileusis.

Vision defects are caused by irregularities in the cornea, the clear front covering of the eye. This changes how the cornea focuses light coming into the eye. LASIK eye surgery can correct these vision defects by reshaping the cornea. LASIK eye surgery cannot correct presbyopia, so people over 40 will still need glasses for reading.

During LASIK, a flap is cut in the outer part of the cornea and folded back. Then an Excimer laser is used to reshape your cornea. The laser does not burn or cut, but instead vaporizes the underlying tissue of the cornea. The layer of tissue removed may be only ten micrometres thick. Next, the flap is laid back in place and the eye heals.

Preparing for Eye Surgery and Recovery

Several weeks before surgery, you should stop wearing contact lenses. Your surgeon will examine your eye, measure its surface contours and calculate the amount and location of corneal tissue to remove.

LASIK is an outpatient procedure, and you’ll be awake during surgery. Anesthetic eye drops and antibiotics are used. Sometimes you’ll be given a tranquilizer. A metal speculum holds your eyelids open. Your vision will be blurred during surgery. Afterward, the cornea flap stays in place with natural adhesion and no stitches are required. Most people notice an improvement in their vision immediately. Your vision may continue to improve over the next six months.

Do not plan to drive or work after laser eye surgery. Take at least two days off work to recuperate. While the eye heals, you’ll be asked to rest and stay in the dark. You’ll be given antibiotic and anti-inflammatory eye drops to use. Eye drops will also help moisturize the eyes. Eye shields will protect your eyes from bright light. Sleeping goggles will prevent you from rubbing the eyes while you are asleep. You will have some discomfort and might not see clearly for a few days.

Is LASIK Laser Eye Surgery Right for You?

There are several reasons why you may not be a good candidate for LASIK laser eye surgery. The ideal LASIK patient is over 21 years of age with stable vision. LASIK won’t work well if your sight changes often. If you are under 21 years old, your eyes are still changing rapidly, and LASIK won’t work well. If you often need a new prescription for glasses because of vision changes, you are not a good candidate for LASIK laser eye surgery. Pregnancy and nursing can also change your vision.

For a successful LASIK procedure, you should have healthy eyes. If you have a dry eye condition, a large-sized pupil, a thin cornea or poor eye health, your doctor may decide that LASIK is not recommended. Certain medicines, like hormone replacements, anti-depressants, steroids and blood pressure medication may cause dry eyes or vision changes. LASIK may not be recommended if you participate in contact sports. Eye problems like glaucoma or ocular hypertension are likely to rule out LASIK laser eye surgery for you. Your doctor is your best source of advice on LASIK eye surgery.

What are the Risks of LASIK Laser Eye Surgery?

Most patients are very pleased with the results of LASIK laser eye surgery. But with all surgery there are risks. Although your vision can usually be corrected to 20/20 with LASIK, there may be temporary complications. Your doctor will require a follow-up examination to check for abnormalities.

After the surgery, some patients notice that images are not as crisp as they were with glasses. This means that the eyes are temporarily not as sensitive to the contrast between lights and darks. Some patients experience temporary dry eyes that cause glare and halos. Some have a temporary decrease in night vision. Other patients become more sensitive to light. The patient may experience inflammation or infection. These symptoms clear up with medication and gradually disappear as the eye heals.

However, if the surgery results in an overcorrection or undercorrection of your vision, an additional surgery to enhance your vision will have to be performed within 3 to 6 months. Some patients may notice that a slight nearsightedness or farsightedness returns gradually over time. This is called vision regression. An second LASIK surgery is used to counteract the regression. There is also a chance that the vision is not corrected or even made worse, in which case wearing glasses will be necessary.