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What is LASIK?

LASIK surgery is a laser procedure designed to reduce or eliminate the need for glasses or contact lenses. First, your surgeon will place a special instrument in your eye. This instrument holds your eyelid open to prevent you from blinking. Following this, you will be asked to focus on a fixation light which is designed to provide a focal point to help control unnecessary eye movement. Next, a small, thin layer of the front of your cornea is lifted using a micro-surgical instrument. This instrument creates a layer, or corneal flap, that stays hinged to the rest of the cornea by one end, or side. This allows the surgeon to lift the corneal flap and begin reshaping the exposed middle layer of the cornea using the Excimer laser. Prior to surgery, the laser’s computer is pre-programmed with your prescribed correction and calculates the proper amount of tissue to be removed (or ablated). Your surgeon will then put the corneal flap back in place. Stitches are not necessary as the flap seals itself naturally.

LASIK and Astigmatism, Farsightedness, and Nearsightedness:

With farsightedness (Hyperopia), the cornea does not “bend” incoming light to the average degree, which causes light to focus behind the normal focal point. This is why farsighted people have blurry vision up close and at a distance. When LASIK is performed to treat farsightedness, the laser gently steepens the surface of the cornea which results in increased bending of incoming light. The focal point will then move closer to the eye’s normal focus point on the front of the retina.

  LASIK may also be used as a method of lessening nearsightedness (Myopia); the condition which allows us to have clear vision up close, but not at a distance. LASIK reduces the effects of nearsightedness by gently flattening the cornea with the Excimer laser. In this process, the laser lessens the bending of incoming light and allows it to focus at the normal focal point in the back of the eye.

When astigmatism is present, the cornea is toroidal in shape (like the bowl of a spoon), instead of spherical (like a marble). This causes the image to be “stretched” so that it cannot be focused at one plane. Both near and far vision can be blurred. In this case, LASIK may be used to reshape the cornea to allow for proper focusing. In essence, astigmatism is treated the same way as far- or near-sightedness, but with different amounts of treatment.

Frequently Asked Questions

Am I a Candidate for LASIK?
Most practices offer free screenings, either during an in-house seminar or with a patient counselor. If you take advantage of either of these offerings, remember to bring your glasses or prescription. Your surgeon will then determine which refractive procedure will offer you the greatest benefit.

 

Is everyone who wears glasses a candidate?
Patients with virtually every degree of nearsightedness and astigmatism are enjoying good outcomes with LASIK. Mild to moderate degrees of farsightedness and astigmatism are able to be treated.

 

What is the difference between RK and LASIK?
RK and LASIK Laser Vision Correction are procedures to correct refractive error by reshaping the cornea to allow light rays to properly focus on the retina. RK requires the use of a diamond blade to create radial incisions on the surface of the cornea. LASIK reshapes the cornea using cool waves of ultraviolet light that gently sculpt away nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism with microscopic precision using an Excimer laser.

 

 

What is the difference between PRK and LASIK?
PRK is the first Excimer laser procedure approved for use in the United States. With PRK, the surface of the cornea (epithelium) is scraped or ablated along with the corneal tissue underneath. This sculpting removes microscopic layers of the cornea to correct refractive error. In contrast, LASIK reshapes the inner layers of the cornea to correct nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism. A special instrument called the microkeratome gently lifts and folds back a thin layer of the cornea. The laser then precisely reshapes the inner surface of the cornea to enable light rays to focus more directly on the retina so images are in better focus. LASIK is the most widely performed refractive procedure in the United States. Because the corneal surface is left virtually intact, most patients report a very high comfort level following the procedure and almost instantaneous improvements in vision.

 

How long will the procedure actually take?
The procedure itself takes only 5 to 10 minutes minute per eye, though you will likely be at the doctor’s office for a couple of hours.

Is the laser painful?
The procedure itself is not painful since medication is administered to make you feel comfortable. Post operatively, most patients experience little or no discomfort. After the procedure, your eyes may feel scratchy, gritty, or watery. These are temporary symptoms and are not a problem for most patients.

 

Can both eyes be done at the same time?
Because of the advanced technology associated with laser vision correction, both eyes are most often treated at the same time. It is possible that the second eye may be done anywhere from one day to a few days to months after the first eye. You can discuss this further when you see your doctor.

Does insurance cover refractive surgery?
Most insurance companies consider refractive surgery an elective surgery and it is not usually a covered benefit. However, it is certainly worth checking with your insurance company.

What kind of vision can I expect the day after surgery?
Most patients notice improved vision immediately after the procedure. Most patients are functional without their corrective lenses at the one day post operative exam. Patients continue to see a gradual increase in their visual acuity during the first five to seven days after the procedure.

Do the results last?
Refractive surgery is considered to be a permanent procedure. However, refractive surgery will not prevent any age related conditions such as presbyopia or cataracts, and they would be treated in their normal matter.

How much work will I miss?
Most patients return to their normal activities the day after the procedure. Your doctor’s office can give you more details on what you can expect when you go in for an evaluation.

What are the risks of refractive surgery?
Again, your doctor’s office can discuss with you the benefits, risks, and side-effects of the surgery, and what you may be able to expect from the procedure.