LASIK (laser assisted in-situ keratomileusis) is the most commonly performed and well known vision correction surgery. Using an excimer laser, the doctor re-shapes the cornea (the stationary refractive element at the front of the eye) so that images are focused to the correct spot on the retina (the light receptor of the eye). The success rate with this procedure is excellent, with most patients achieving 20/20 vision or better upon completion.
The LASIK procedure itself involves little or no discomfort (or pain) both during the procedure and through the recovery process. Also, eyesight improvement is almost immediate, and maximum vision is typically achieved within a few days.
Reasons to consider LASIK:
Astigmatism (irregularly shaped cornea).
Desire to decrease or eliminate dependence on glasses or contacts.
During the procedure, the doctor first administers a local anesthetic via eye drops, so the patient will feel no pain during the surgery. A speculum is then placed over the eye to prevent the patient from blinking. Next, the surgeon cuts an extremely thin flap from the outer layer of the cornea, using a microkeratome (a small blade specially designed for this purpose). The flap is folded to the side, and the excimer laser, programmed with the individual map of the patient’s eye, removes excess tissue with quick pulses of concentrated light. This process usually takes less than a minute. Once this is done, the doctor folds the flap back into place and surgery is complete.
The patient may go home shortly after the procedure; however, someone else must drive or alternate transportation must be arranged. Patients will be asked to get lots of rest, avoid any strenuous activities, and avoid rubbing the eye area for a period of time. There are follow up appointments with the doctor 24 to 48 hours after the procedure and periodically over the following weeks and months. Vision should dramatically improve in the first few days following surgery. The patient often may return to work in a day or two, though it is best to take a few days off to ensure a smooth recovery.
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