The word LASIK comes from the Greek words for “cornea” and “to carve.” The acronym LASIK stands for Laser in situ keratomileusis. It is a procedure that is used worldwide for correction of a broad range of refractive abnormalities such as myopia (short sightedness), hyperopia (long sightedness) or astigmatism (lack of a single point focus). The safety and effectiveness of the procedure, combined with the quick visual recovery and minimal patient discomfort, have made LASIK one of the most popular refractive procedures.
If you have a refractive error, such as nearsightedness (myopia), farsightedness (hyperopia), astigmatism or presbyopia, refractive surgery such as LASIK is a method for correcting or improving your vision. There are various surgical procedures for correcting or adjusting your eye’s focusing ability by reshaping the cornea, or clear, round dome at the front of your eye and LASIK is one such procedure.
Is LASIK a Good Option for Me?
Refractive surgery might be a good option, if you:
- – Wish to decrease your dependence on glasses or contact lenses;
- – Are free of eye disease;
- – Accept the inherent risks and potential side effects of the procedure, though minimum
- – Understand that you might still need glasses or contact lenses even after the procedure to achieve your best vision;
- – Have an appropriate refractive error.
There is no universally-accepted or best method for correcting refractive errors. The best option should be decided after a thorough examination and discussion with your ophthalmologist. If you are considering refractive surgery, you and your ophthalmologist can discuss the most appropriate procedure based on your vision needs and lifestyle.
How Does LASIK Work?
LASIK is an outpatient procedure. During this procedure, the ophthalmologist numbs the eye with an anesthetic eye drop and an eye lid holder is used to open up the eyes and prevent the patient from blinking. The eye is then held in place by a suction cup so it does not move. The surgeon creates a thin flap in the cornea (the outermost dome shaped portion of your eye) using a fine blade or a laser. This flap is lifted and folded back and the laser is used to remove tissue and “sculpt” the cornea. Once this procedure is complete the flap is put back on. There are no sutures needed. The surgeon may put a bandage contact lens on top to promote healing and will also remind the patient not rub their eyes.
LASIK Risk and Side Effects
Like any other surgical procedure, LASIK procedure also has its risks. However, regulatory bodies such as FDA have determined that the benefits of the procedure outweigh the risks and this has provided the basis for their approval.
Common side effects include haziness of vision, difficulty with night vision and/or driving at night; scratchiness, dryness and other symptoms of the condition called “dry eye”; glare, halos or starbursts around lights; light sensitivity; discomfort or pain; small pink or red patches on the white of the eye. In a small percentage of patients, some of these effects may be permanent.
In some cases, depending on their preoperative ocular condition, a retreatment or touch up procedure may be required. Your ophthalmologist will discuss these with you prior to the first treatment.
Alternatives to LASIK
If Laser surgery is not an option, then patients have other options. Typically these involve wearing glasses, contact lenses and also correcting the refractive errors with a corneal inlay (small disc shaped device that is placed inside the cornea) and sometimes, for larger refractive errors, even Intraocular lenses may be recommended.
It is important to discuss all your options with your doctor to ensure you make the right decision that meets your visual needs.