What is LASIK?
LASIK actually stands for Laser in-situ keratomileusis, which is the most commonly performed type of laser eye surgery. This procedure is generally safe, effective, and has very few side effects. LASIK is a great option for many individuals considering laser vision correction for a variety of very personal and professional reasons. LASIK may not promise perfect vision, however; it is a highly successful procedure that can at the very least reduce a person’s dependence on glasses or contact lenses. The lifestyle benefits can be tremendous for active and social people. These benefits can enable people to more freely pursue their hobbies, sports activities or career options.
The Excimer LASER
LASIK involves the use of an excimer laser to permanently change the shape of the cornea, or the outer layer of the eye. The EXCIMER laser, which is a specific type of "cool" laser, generates its power from light in the ultraviolet range. It cannot be visualized by the human eye. Because the laser does not generate any heat, there is no tissue damage as the result of the laser light. As the treatment with the laser proceeds, microscopic layers of tissue, approximately 1/10th the width of a human hair are removed. The laser is programmed to remove precisely the amount of tissue needed to achieve the desired result.
The LASIK Procedure
During LASIK the surgeon first applies anesthetic eye drops to numb the eye for surgery. The Cornea is then marked with water-soluble ink to guide replacement of the flap. Next a suction ring is applied that is designed to hold the eye steady and also confirms the pressure of the eye. The surgeon then creates a thin corneal flap using a device called a microkeratome. The surgeon tests for laser alignment and walks the patient through the fixation process. The corneal flap is lifted up, and the laser beam is applied to the exposed interior surface of the cornea to reshape the tissue. The computer-controlled excimer laser removes the tissue under the flap and reshapes the cornea of the affected eye. In less than 60 seconds, high-energy pulses from the excimer laser actually reshape the internal cornea with accuracy up to 0.25 microns, or 1/4000 of a millimeter. The flap is then replaced over the treated area. This corneal flap serves a natural bandage, which eliminates the discomfort associated with other types of refractive surgery, and expedites the healing process. Your doctor will then watch the eye for five minutes to ensure proper healing. Because of the extraordinary bonding properties of the corneal tissue, stitches are not needed to keep the flap in place postoperatively. The entire procedure usually takes twenty minutes to complete.
LASIK is a surgical procedure conducted on the cornea part of the eye, and it is crucial that patients are well educated on the potential benefits and risks of this procedure. As with any type of surgery risks are involved. After your pre-operative evaluation you will have a good idea about the risks and what they imply to your specific situation. It is important to discuss any concerns with your surgeon and weigh the risks and potential benefits. Each patient’s vision is different and different treatment options are available in order to give the best possible results. The only way to determine if LASIK is right for you is to come in and discuss your options with our LASIK coordinator.
Click here for a review of the risks listed by the FDA.