Many people who use contacts or glasses for vision correction may desire a permanent solution for one reason or another. Caring for your contacts, waking up to bent or deformed glass frames, or even misplacing your contacts are valid reasons for wanting a lasting corrective measure. Laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis (LASIK) is a common surgical procedure for people who need vision correction without using contacts or glasses.
LASIK is used to correct refractive errors – vision problems that affect the eye’s focusing power. This procedure reshapes the cornea using laser technology, making the eyes better able to focus on objects, thereby improving vision. LASIK can be employed for correcting shortsightedness (myopia), farsightedness (hyperopia), and astigmatism.
Not every patient is an ideal candidate for LASIK. If you are thinking of ditching your contacts or glasses, you have to speak to your doctor to determine whether you qualify for LASIK surgery. The ideal LASIK candidate is an individual with stable vision needs, that is, your prescription for contacts or glasses hasn’t changed over a long period. You also have to be:
- Up to 18 years of age
- Have no autoimmune condition or be on immunosuppressive medications that can affect post-surgical healing
- Not be a pregnant or breastfeeding mother. Increased hormones during pregnancy or lactation can affect eye shape
- Have healthy eyes. Keratoconus, glaucoma, cataracts, and chronic dry eye syndrome can prevent an individual from undergoing LASIK surgery
How Is LASIK Surgery Performed?
LASIK is a short, painless process, usually less than 30 minutes, in which the surgeon changes the cornea’s shape to allow the eyes to better focus on objects. Before surgery, the doctor will examine the eyes for dryness and other eye conditions. They will also ask questions about your medical history, evaluate your cornea’s shape and thickness and measure your pupil size.
Steps in LASIK surgery procedure include:
- Numbing the eyes with eye drops to prevent discomfort during the procedure. While you’ll be awake throughout the procedure, the doctor may also give you some sedative drugs to help you relax.
- A lid speculum will be used to keep your eyes open as you go under the laser.
- A femtosecond laser will be used to create a thin, secular flap in your cornea. The flap is then folded back to allow access to the stroma or underlying cornea.
- Using an ultraviolet laser, the surgeon will remove small amounts of tissue from the cornea to reshape it. The cornea’s new shape enables it to focus light on the retina more accurately for sharper vision.
- For farsighted individuals, the laser will create a steeper cornea, while a flatter cornea will be created for people with nearsightedness.
- The surgeon then returns the flap to the place from where the corneal tissue was removed.
- The surgery is performed separately on each eye, and the eyes are given time to heal naturally.
Pros and Cons of LASIK Surgery
The thought of eye surgery can be frightful as not everyone likes the idea of a surgical instrument coming near their eyes, especially when they’re awake. If you’re wondering whether you should opt for LASIK, you may wish to examine the pros and cons before you make your decision.
You Get to Live Without Contact or Glasses
Whether you wear contacts for people with astigmatism or use glasses to correct far or near vision, using ocular medical devices is a daily chore many people would rather not perform. LASIK allows you to live permanently without these devices and enjoy activities once impeded by poor vision.
LASIK is a Quick and Safe Procedure
Even if you’re scared of going under the knife, you should know that you’re going for a quick, painless, and perfectly safe procedure. You’ll be given a sedative to calm your nerves, and the laser is designed to automatically turn off if you make sudden movements that may lead to injury.
The Results are Instant
It doesn’t take long to see the benefits of LASIK once you have had the surgery. You will start to experience better vision within a few hours after the surgery, and your eyesight will get to a high level within a few days. Some LASIK patients can regain 20/20 vision depending on the degree of correction required.
LASIK Has a Quick Recovery Time
LASIK is performed as an outpatient procedure as your eyes heal within 24 to 48 hours after surgery so that you can return to your regular life with better vision as soon as possible.
Potential Side Effects
Like many other surgical procedures, LASIK comes with side effects like dry eyes with itchy or burning sensations for about three months after the surgery. Your doctor may recommend over-the-counter artificial tears to help relieve these sensations.
You may also experience glares and halos around light sources, especially when driving at night after LASIK. This effect can last for a few days to some weeks, depending on the individual.
Risk of Complications After Surgery
Every surgery has its risks, and LASIK is no exception. Rare complications like over-correction or under-correction can occur if too much or too little tissue is taken out during surgery. Further procedures can be performed to correct the situation if too little tissue is removed, but the case may be more complicated when the surgeon removes too much tissue.
Astigmatism can also result from uneven tissue removal and require further surgery to correct. The patient can also use glasses or contacts for astigmatism correction if they don’t want further surgery.
Furthermore, the flap created during the surgery isn’t secured, and it can get infected or cause excessive tearing. Patients shouldn’t rub their eyes to avoid traumas that may dislodge the flap during the healing period.
Need for Further Surgery
Patients with strong prescriptions may experience myopic regression – vision decline with time causing them to need further surgery, which comes with a new set of risks.
LASIK is a simple surgical procedure that can do wonders for your vision. However, you must be aware of the pros and potential risks before opting for surgery. A discussion with your doctor will help you determine whether LASIK is right for you or if you should look at other options.