Eye Surgery Basic: Understanding LASIK and How It Works

Over 600,000 LASIK operations are done in the US annually, and that’s a lot of people who no longer have to depend on eye glasses or contact lenses to correct refractive errors. If you are tired of having to wear glasses or contact lenses for your far-sightedness, near-sightedness or astigmatism, LASIK may be a good option for you.

What is Lasik?

The corneas in our eyes focus light to the retina, creating an image of what we see. But due to imperfections in the cornea, the image that we see can be distorted. These refractive visual errors are categorized as myopia (near-sightedness), hyperopia (far-sightedness), and astigmatism.

LASIK (laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis) is a type of refractive surgery that uses lasers to reshape the cornea to correct refractive errors.

The surgeon will first cut a flap in the cornea. The flap will be folded back. Parts of the underlying corneal tissue are then precisely removed with a special laser until the appropriate shape achieved. The flap will then be put back and allowed to heal.

Due to the permanent effects of the surgery, patients will no longer be dependent on eyeglasses or contact lenses to correct refractive visual errors.

Is it Right for You?

There are several general guidelines that are recommended for those considering LASIK surgery. In terms of age, patients between 21 and 40 are suitable candidates. On the other hand, those below 18 are advised not to take the procedure.

The patient’s eyes must also be in generally good health, with no existing eye conditions that can hamper the operation. For instance, eyes prone to dryness, pupils that are too large or corneas that are thin aren’t considered good candidates. Ideally, patients should not have changed their prescription in the past year as well. It’s best to see a doctor who can assess the current condition of your eyes to see if you can undergo LASIK.

It also goes without saying that patients who have an existing medical condition that affects their immune system shouldn’t undergo LASIK surgery. The operation itself requires time for the cornea to heal, so anything that might compromise this can adversely affect the procedure.

Risks

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has the following warning on their website:
“Before undergoing a refractive procedure, you should carefully weigh the risks and benefits based on your own personal value system, and try to avoid being influenced by friends that have had the procedure or doctors encouraging you to do so.”
While there are many successfully completed operations, like any medical procedure, there are some risks to LASIK. The most common ones are listed below.

  • Some patients have reported loss of vision.
  • Some patients develop visual symptoms like halos, glares, and reduced vision in low light conditions.
  • You may be over or undertreated and additional treatment may not be possible. You may still need glasses or contacts after the surgery.
  • Some patients may develop severe dry eyes syndrome as a result of the surgery.
  • Patients with large refractive errors may not have as good a result as hoped for.
  • Long term data is not available yet.

Choosing right doctor

Fortunately, a lot of the risks can be avoided if you have the right doctor who can skillfully perform the procedure but also properly consult you even before the operation.

Dr. Hetel Bhakta of Planet Vision Eyecare is an experienced and board-certified optometrist. She will be able to consult you on whether you are a good candidate for LASIK or recommend other methods to correct your refractive vision errors. If you are interested in LASIK and want to know if it is the right procedure for you, schedule an appointment now.

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