See the World Without Glasses

Wouldn’t it be grand to see clearly without glasses or contact lenses? Millions of people have had LASIK laser eye surgery to improve their vision. It is a popular surgical procedure with a high success rate that can improve your quality of life. If you are tired of glasses or annoyed by contact lenses, LASIK eye surgery may be for you. No matter whether you are nearsighted, farsighted or have astigmatism, LASIK is a quick ten-minute procedure that can improve your vision. But not everyone will benefit from LASIK, and you should know that LASIK is a medical operation.

What Is 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.

Other Techniques for Laser Eye Surgery

Laser eye surgery has advanced since 1990 when LASIK was first used. Here are five other procedures for laser eye surgery.

  • Wavefront LASIK is a groundbreaking technology for custom LASIK surgery with better results. It uses precise three-dimensional measurements of how your eye processes images. People with poor night vision, poor contrast sensitivity and glared vision will benefit from Wavefront LASIK. Conventional LASIK cannot treat these problems. Most eye surgeons now use Wavefront LASIK.
  • Intralase is a modification to LASIK eye surgery that uses a machine-guided laser to cut the flap into the cornea, rather than a hand-held blade. You could call it blade-free LASIK. Some patients feel more confident with a bladeless cut controlled by a computer.
  • PRK, or photorefractive keratectomy, is another laser procedure to correct nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism. An eye surgeon using PRK does not cut a thin flap into the eye’s surface, as occurs with LASIK. Instead, laser energy is applied directly to the eye’s surface. The ultra thin, outer layer of the eye (epithelium) is removed completely by laser energy during a PRK procedure, and eventually grows back. PRK is a successful procedure, but LASIK has less discomfort and quicker results.
  • A LASEK procedure is different from LASIK. With LASEK, the extremely thin epithelial layer is lifted from the eye’s surface and then laser energy is applied to reshape. After the LASEK procedure, the epithelium is replaced on the eye’s surface. This is a relatively new procedure made possible by a hand-held cutting tool called a trephine, and is suitable for a patient with a thin cornea.
  • Monovision LASIK is now available. Everyone develops presbyopia after age 40 and requires reading glasses. To avoid reading glasses, some people get LASIK eye surgery for monovision. One eye is surgically corrected to see far away and one eye is surgically corrected for close and intermediate distance. There is some loss of depth perception with monovision, but many people are comfortable with the surgery. Instead of surgery, you can get a prescription for monovision glasses or contact lenses.

This article is only for information and is not intended as medical advice. Please consult your ophthalmologist.