How Does LASIK Work

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LASIK Eye Surgery Information

LASIK eye surgery is the most common elective procedure and is performed to correct nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism. In most cases, LASIK is painless and completed within several minutes per eye. The results improve your vision to reduce and in most cases eliminate the need for eyeglasses or contact lenses, and the results of the procedure can usually be noticed within 24 hours. Like most types of refractive eye surgery, LASIK reshapes the cornea to allow the light entering the eye to be specifically focused on the proper part of the retina to obtain clearer vision. There are multiple laser vision correction surgeries available, such as PRK, LASEK, Custom and all-laser Bladeless LASIK. An exam with a LASIK surgeon will determine if LASIK surgery is right for you.

How Does LASIK Work

  1. LASIK doctor will perform a dilated eye exam to ensure your eyes are healthy for LASIK eye surgery. The surgeon will evaluate the shape and thickness of your cornea, refractive errors, pupil size and your general overall health to determine if you are candidate for LASIK.  If you are having Custom LASIK you likely will have a 3D image of your eye, referred to as Wavefront analysis, which creates a more precise map of overall aberrations affecting your vision. 
  2. Because contact lenses alter the natural shape of your eye, you will be asked to stop wearing contacts for a specified period of time prior to your surgery date. Typically the time to remove soft contact lenses is 1-2 weeks and hard contacts can be up to 4 weeks; your LASIK surgeon will advise how long to stay out of your contacts during your consultation.
  3. Prior to your LASIK eye surgery, numbing eye drops are used to alleviate any discomfort to the eye. Some surgeons may also prescribe medication to help you relax. 
  4. LASIK requires only topical anesthetic drops, and no stitches are required to heal. Your eye will be positioned under the laser. Your surgeon will use either an instrument called a microkeratome or a laser to create a thin semi-circular flap in the cornea on the surface of the eye. 
  5. The surgeon will then use the excimer laser to treat your specific prescription by utilizing a cool ultraviolet beam of light to reshape the cornea. This allows light entering the eye to be refocused for more accurate vision. The surgery is painless; however you may feel some pressure on your eyes. LASIK is performed on each eye independently with the entire surgery taking only several minutes. 
  6. After the laser reshapes the cornea, the flap is repositioned and serves as a natural bandage for the healing process.

How Does LASIK Work After the Procedure

  1. Following LASIK eye surgery, you will need someone to drive you home. You may experience a temporary itching sensation in your eyes and should expect some blurry vision or haziness immediately after the procedure, which generally lasts 8-12 hours. 
  2. The next day your vision and clarity should continue to improve. Most people return to work and drive themselves to their follow up appointment the very next day. Additionally, the majority of doctors request an additional follow up exam 2-4 weeks after the LASIK procedure and 1-3 months after the surgery.  
  3. It is normal in the first few weeks after the Laser eye surgery, to feel a slight discomfort described as an “eye lash” in the eye which is also a normal feeling during your recovery time. It is important to keep your eyes lubricated for the first few weeks to three months after the Laser procedure. Even when your eyes don’t feel dry, you should try to use lubricating eye drops 3-4 times a day to prevent your eyes from getting dry. 
  4.  Patients can also experience increased sensitivity to light and is another reason patients are recommended to wear sunglasses anytime they are outside, even when it is overcast.
  5. Each surgeon has a list and timeframe of restrictions for their patients. Your doctor might limit exercise, swimming, wearing eye makeup or any makeup for a few weeks. Contact sports, hot tubs and whirlpools can be limited for a few months. You should follow your doctor’s postoperative instructions during your LASIK recovery to help the healing as much as possible.
  6. If you think you are having any issues during your LASIK recovery, you should call your doctor who has access to your complete medical history to confirm if your specific situation is within normal limits or if further postoperative care will be required.

What are the Results of LASIK Today?

LASIK eye surgery results have continued to improve since it was FDA approved in 1996.  LASIK eye surgery offers many benefits and should significantly improve your overall quality of life. Due to the latest technology, surgeon’s skill and experience, almost ten million Americans are less dependent on their contact lenses and glasses. Today, most patients achieve 20/20 vision after LASIK eye surgery, but results are not the same for everyone. Some patients may achieve only 20/40 vision results or less.  In some cases, patients may still need to wear glasses or contact lenses following LASIK eye surgery, however the post-operative prescription and visual acuity level will typically be much lower than before LASIK.  

The surgery has an excellent safety record, but like any surgery post-operative complications can occur.  A very small percentage of patients may require an enhancement or touch up procedure to improve the vision to the desired level.   Due to presbyopia, some LASIK eye surgery patients may still need reading glasses once you reach your mid-life (40 to 50) due to a normal age-related loss of near vision.  Overall, LASIK eye surgery has a very high success rate, but it is important that you discuss and consider all the risks with your surgeon prior to having LASIK eye surgery.


How Does LASIK Reshape the Cornea?

What is LASIK and how long does LASIK last? LASIK eye surgery is a permanent procedure that corrects vision problems such as nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism.  The LASIK procedure involves using an excimer laser (a cool beam of light) to reshape the cornea in order to decrease or eliminate the need for glasses or contact lenses.  Normally, your cornea (front part of the eye) focuses light onto the retina (back part of the eye) to create an image. If the cornea is imperfectly shaped or if the eyeball is longer or shorter than normal, a distorted image is projected onto the retina resulting in blurry vision. For many years the only solution to this problem was corrective eyewear.

The LASIK surgeon creates a tiny flap on the surface of the cornea and then the excimer laser (cool beam of light) gently reshapes the exposed cornea.  Each pulse of the laser removes 39-millionths of an inch of tissue, enabling surgeons to achieve remarkable accuracy while maintaining excellent control throughout the LASIK procedure. The flap is then replaced adhering naturally and securely to the eye, and you are on your way to better vision.