LASIK Surgery Overview
LASIK, also known as Laser Assisted In-Situ Keratomileusis, is a refractive procedure that is used to help correct myopia or nearsightedness as well as hyperopia and astigmatism. The LASIK procedure, and all other laser correction procedures, are irreversible vision correction procedures that use a laser to ablate and reshape the cornea.
The LASIK procedure begins with a doctor numbing the eyes with anesthetic drops. After these have taken effect your doctor will begin by creating a flap on your cornea. Once this flap is created the doctor will fold the flap back exposing the surface of the cornea. At this point, the doctor will use a laser to remove some tissue from the front surface of the cornea in order to make it less curved. This process must be performed on each eye separately. Depending on your doctor and your situation, you may be able to have both eyes done the same day. After the procedure it is necessary to have a someone drive you home for recovery.
After a LASIK procedure, blurry vision is common immediately after LASIK and should be expected during the early stages of your LASIK recovery. You will have a number of follow-up visits after your LASIK surgery. Some vision blurriness and fluctuation of vision is not unusual as your eyes recover after LASIK and it may take up to a few months for this to resolve completely.
Your doctor will provide you with an eye shield to prevent any sort of rubbing or touching during the healing process. This shield should be removed on your follow up visit with your doctor after the procedure. You will also be prescribed eye drops to help with inflammation and healing. It’s important to avoid sports or any physically demanding activity until you’re cleared by your doctor. With this in mind it’s important to schedule regular visits with your doctor to monitor your healing progress. You may experience changes in your vision after your procedure but it’s normal for vision to fluctuate for a period of 2 to 6 months.
Vision correction has many benefits but before having a surgical procedure you should consider the potential complications. Some possible complications associated with LASIK are1:
- Some patients lose vision. Some patients lose lines of vision on the vision chart that cannot be corrected with glasses, contact lenses, or surgery as a result of treatment.
- Some patients develop debilitating visual symptoms. Some patients develop glare, halos, and/or double vision that can seriously affect nighttime vision. Even with good vision on the vision chart, some patients do not see as well in situations of low contrast, such as at night or in fog, after treatment as compared to before treatment.
- You may be under treated or over treated. Only a certain percent of patients achieve 20/20 vision without glasses or contacts. You may require additional treatment, but additional treatment may not be possible. You may still need glasses or contact lenses after surgery. This may be true even if you only required a very weak prescription before surgery. If you used reading glasses before surgery, you may still need reading glasses after surgery.
- Some patients may develop severe dry eye syndrome. As a result of surgery, your eye may not be able to produce enough tears to keep the eye moist and comfortable. Dry eye not only causes discomfort, but can reduce visual quality due to intermittent blurring and other visual symptoms. This condition may be permanent. Intensive drop therapy and use of plugs or other procedures may be required.
- Results are generally not as good in patients with very large refractive errors of any type. You should discuss your expectations with your doctor and realize that you may still require glasses or contacts after the surgery.
- For some farsighted patients, results may diminish with age. If you are farsighted, the level of improved vision you experience after surgery may decrease with age. This can occur if your manifest refraction (a vision exam with lenses before dilating drops) is very different from your cycloplegic refraction (a vision exam with lenses after dilating drops).