LASIK is a safe, reliable and painless way to improve vision, usually without the need for glasses or contact lenses. LASIK, which stands for laser assisted in-situ keratomileusis, is a form of refractive surgery that changes the way light is bent, or refracted, as it passes through the cornea so that it focuses properly on the retina in the back of the eye: therefore objects can be seen clearly. The procedure is effective for many patients with nearsightedness (myopia) and astigmatism. It may be useful in low amounts of farsightedness (hyperopia) as well. For large amounts of farsightedness, see our explanation of Clear Lens Exchange.
Candidates Eligible for LASIK
LASIK is considered a safe procedure, yet it is not ideal for everyone. A thorough medical evaluation of the patients eyes will be performed in order to determine if the LASIK procedure is appropriate, or if the patient would benefit from another type of refractive procedure.
Candidates eligible for the LASIK procedure include patients who meet the following requirements:
- Are over 18 years old
- Not pregnant or nursing
- In general good health
- Has had stable vision for at least six months
- Has a healthy cornea thick enough for a flap
- Has refractive errors that fall within the treatable range
It is also important for patients to fully understand the details and risks of the procedure, and maintain realistic expectations as to the outcome of the procedure.
During the surgeon directed procedure, a device called a microkeratome creates a flap in the outer layer of the cornea. Patients are given topical anesthesia and a mild sedative so they are awake but calm and cannot feel the instruments to any significant degree. The corneal flap is lifted and an excimer laser beam adjusts corneal curvature so objects no longer appear blurry. The cornea is flattened for myopic patients, made more spherical for patients with astigmatism and steepened for hyperopic patients. The flap is then replaced and allowed to reseal itself.
Recovery After the LASIK Procedure
The entire LASIK procedure takes only 15-30 minutes per eye, and patients are often ready to leave the laser center within an hour or two. A common complaint after surgery is sensitivity to light, but this will subside. Antibiotic eye drops will be prescribed for a few days, along with any other post-operative instructions. Full recovery takes just a few weeks.
The doctor will provide specific post-operative instructions to ensure proper healing and to help patients achieve the best possible vision.
Vision Results from the LASIK Procedure
Though it may take several months for full results to develop, significant visual improvement is noticeable immediately after the LASIK procedure. Most patients achieve vision that is 20/20 or better, and are able to reduce or eliminate the need for glasses or contact lenses.
While patients can achieve clear vision from LASIK, this procedure does not prevent the development of presbyopia, the age-related vision changes that occur after the age of 40. Many patients will need reading glasses for this condition, but their distance vision will remain clear.
At Eye Care for Tulsa we are proud to be affiliated with TLC, The Laser Center of Tulsa.