Our Medical Director's Perspective

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A Medical Perspective of LASIK

Since its approval for use in the United States in 1996, laser vision correction (LASIK) has become the preferred technique for successfully and safely treating and correcting vision on patients with most forms of nearsightedness (myopia), farsightedness (hyperopia) and astigmatism.  And now with the addition of Custom/Wavefront LASIK numerous recent studies have shown that 90-94 percent of patients treated have achieved uncorrected vision of 20/20 or better. The continued success of the procedure is supported by data from the National Institute of Clinical Excellence which found that, since its inception, over 9 million people have enjoyed the benefits of LASIK in the United States.

Traditional and Custom LASIK have many advantages over other previous vision correction procedures (such as RK and PRK), including a relative painless recovery and good vision usually achieved shortly after the procedure. Most patients are even able to comfortably drive to their first follow up visit with the doctor the very next day.

The new benefit with Custom or WaveFront technology is that it uses the latest vision technology to create a 3-D map of the eye allowing the laser to measure and treat individual irregularities of a cornea and customizing the procedure to allow for the possibility of even higher level of quality vision.  Another advantage of this technology is that the individual mapping of the eye helps reduces risk of potential side effects such as glare, night vision difficulties and halos that sometimes occur after LASIK.

With LASIK, a change in vision correction is achieved by shaping the cornea to compensate for the patient’s natural eye shape and prescription. In patients who are nearsighted the goal is to use the laser to reshape the eye by flatten a cornea that is too steep; with farsighted patients a steeper cornea is desired; and astigmatism is corrected by smoothing an oval or irregular cornea into a more spherical shape.

The total time of the LASIK procedure takes about 30 minutes. The laser itself is used for less than one minute. Most patients will experience rapid vision recovery and are able to return to work or their normal routine the next day. Though vision is clear enough to comfortably drive the next day, as part of the healing process it is common for the vision to fluctuate for the next month before becoming stable.

In most cases, clear and functional vision occurs with the first treatment.  Occasionally a second treatment or an enhancement is needed if there is any residual prescription not corrected from the initial procedure. As with any procedure there are certain criteria a patient must meet in order to be considered a good candidate for LASIK including:

  1. A patient must be at least 18 years old
  2. The patient must have stable vision
  3. The eyes must be healthy and no current or active corneal disease.
  4. There are a number of health issues that can also preclude a patient from having LASIK

Laser eye surgeons agree that one of limitations that LASIK has is that it is not designed to correct presbyopia, or the natural loss of near focus that occurs to all patients over 40 years of age.  Patients who are over 40 may still require the use of reading glasses after the procedure. Patients with Presbyopia who do not want to use reading glasses may also choose a monovision technique in which one eye is corrected for distance and the other eye is corrected for reading.

As with any surgical procedure, side effects are a possible outcome. The ones that seem to be most common are glare, halos, dry eye, and over/under correction. In most cases, the side effects are generally mild and many can be corrected with a retreatment or enhancement and do not normally outweigh the benefits of the procedure. Patient satisfaction with LASIK and laser eye surgeons has never been higher, and the success rate of LASIK continues to get better and results more accurate as more and more patients continue to enjoy the benefits of freedom from their glasses and contact lenses.

As an eyecare provider for the past 25 years, and having worked with LASIK since its inception as consultant for the first LASIK centers in the U.S., I have witnessed and treated thousands of patients who have expressed to me their excitement of being able to swim and see clearly for the first time without their corrective lenses, play sports without glasses or contacts, see the clock in the morning without reaching for their glasses, or just wearing regular fashionable sunglasses.

With the new advances in LASIK today the chances for a successful procedure have never been greater.

Dr. Robert Levine, QualSight Medical Director

Chicago, IL
May, 2015