LASIK (Laser-Assisted In Situ Keratomileusis) is the most common refractive eye surgery today. As of 2019, over 1 million LASIK procedures have been performed in Australia and over 28 million worldwide.
LASIK, often referred to as laser eye surgery or laser vision correction, is a type of refractive eye surgery for the correction of myopia, hyperopia and astigmatism. Other forms of laser refractive surgeries include PRK and SMILE. LASIK surgery is performed by ophthalmologists who specialise in this procedure and use a laser to reshape the eye's cornea in order to improve visual acuity. For most patients, LASIK provides a permanent alternative to glasses or contact lenses.
Each of the various laser refractive surgeries vary slightly. LASIK requires the formation of an epithelial flap, which is folded back into place after the laser procedure. PRK removes the epithelium entirely, which grows back and SMILE removes a piece from inside the cornea. All these options represent advances over radial keratotomy (RK) in the surgical treatment of refractive errors of vision.
LASIK is the premier surgery for vision correction. It's quick, practically painless, and is accompanied with little or no discomfort after the procedure. Vision recovery is rapid, with patients reporting 20/20 vision within 24 hours.
Who Are The Optimal LASIK Candidates?
The ideal candidates for LASIK are aged 21 or over, have a stable prescription for at least one year and have healthy eyes with adequate corneal thickness. This is necessary as LASIK procedures remove tissue from the cornea to reshape the curvature.
Chronic dry eye, corneal disease or other conditions may disqualify a candidate from LASIK surgery. That's why prior to undergoing the surgery, a comprehensive eye test should be conducted. For your convenience, we provide LASIK pre-operative tests and consultations at our practice.
Note that LASIK is an elective procedure and proper consideration must include the weight of personal needs, potential gain, financial costs and willingness to accept the risks involved. There are no guarantees that LASIK will meet your expectations, as the results are not always perfect. Your optometrist and eye surgeon will discuss all the factors and things to take into consideration before embarking on LASIK surgery.
Specifics of The LASIK Procedure
LASIK is a relatively quick procedure. You walk into the surgery centre, undergo LASIK, and walk out a few hours later. The surgery procedure lasts about 20-30 minutes for both eyes, but allowances should be made for additional hours for surgery preparation and post-surgical recovery.
Regarding the LASIK procedure, it begins with the surgeon using a laser to create a thin, hinged flap of tissue from the front layer of your cornea, the epithelium. Then the surgeon uses a laser to reshape the cornea, which corrects the refraction problems in the eye. After laser treatment, which lasts a few minutes, the flap is repositioned back in place to begin the healing process.
After The Surgery
Following the LASIK procedure, you will use medicated eye drops and clear protective shields to cover your eyes. You'll be able to open your eyes and see well enough to walk without glasses, but you must not drive yourself home.
You'll also have to administer medicated eye drops several times a day for a week or more to prevent infection and speed up the healing process.
Make sure you rest your eyes as much as possible the day of your surgery. You may find it comfortable to leave the house lights dimly lit and avoid watching TV or look at digital screens.
Over the next few days, your vision and comfort will improve and you might even see well enough to drive and resume many of your normal activities.
You may be asked to return to visit your eye surgeon the following day for an eye test to check your vision and be sure your eyes appear to be healing as they should. You'll also be given any additional instructions, such as advice on the eye drops and/or artificial tears.
Pre and post-operative care may be conducted by an optometrist, a process referred to as co-management. For added convenience, we provide post-operative care at our practice through a co-management agreement with your surgeon. For further details, contact us today.
What If My Vision Is Blurry Post-LASIK?
While most patients see clearly within a day or so after LASIK, it can take several weeks or months before your eyes and vision completely stabilise. Until then, improvements in your vision may still occur. If at any stage your vision is still blurred, be sure to communicate that with your optometrist. It may be necessary to have a second LASIK surgery— as an enhancement—to further sharpen your vision.
If an enhancement is not required, wearing glasses or contact lenses may help. We'lll be happy to examine your eyes and discuss the options available to you.
After LASIK Eyewear
Even if your vision seems perfect after LASIK, you may still require or feel more comfortable with eyewear.
When outdoors, it’s critical to protect your eyes from the sun’s strong and harmful rays. Use sunglasses that provide 100% UV protection. Sports sunglass lenses need to have polycarbonate for extra strength and protection. Anytime you work with power tools or do any activity where eye injury is a possibility, be sure to use safety glasses with polycarbonate lenses.
If you’re over 40, it’s likely you’ll need reading or computer glasses after LASIK. Moreover, many LASIK patients benefit from prescription glasses for night driving; even a mild prescription can render your vision sharper for added safety and comfort at night.
After LASIK Eye Care
Remember to continue to schedule routine eye tests following LASIK. Even with perfect vision, you still need to have your eyes tested by an optometrist for dry eyes, glaucoma and other potential problems on a regular basis. Routine eye tests will help ensure that your vision remains clear and stable for many years to come.