LASIK stands for laser assisted in situ keratomileusis. It is one of the most commonly performed laser eye surgery used for vision correction. The procedure involves remodelling the shape of the cornea so that the person does not have to wear reading glasses or corrective lenses anymore.
Candidates for LASIK surgery
Nearsightedness (myopia) things closer are clear while distant objects are blurry
Farsightedness (hyperopia) things closer are blurry while distant objects are clear
Astigmatism (blurry vision, may be combination of myopia and hyperopia)
Presbyopia (also called aging eye condition)
Other than the above-mentioned conditions it is always advisable to consult your doctor if you fall under the following category-
Your ophthalmologist (eye doctor) will perform a thorough eye examination a few weeks prior to the surgery. The shape of the cornea, thickness of the cornea, surface of the eyes and eye pressure will be noted. Complete medical history will also be taken. It is very important to inform your eye doctor about all the medications that you are currently taking, e.g. herbal medicines, nutritional supplements, pain relieving medicines, over the counter (OTC) medicines and medicines for any systemic illness (diabetes, thyroid, blood pressure) etc. Some of these medicines/supplements can increase the risk of complications after eye muscle surgery.
It is also important to carry your eye glasses, so that the doctor can review your vision prescription.
You will also be advised to stop wearing your corrective lenses few weeks before LASIK surgery-
Soft contact lenses: stop wearing these at least 2 weeks prior to LASIK.
Toric soft lenses: stop wearing these for at least 3 weeks prior to LASIK.
Hard lenses: stop wearing these for at least 4 weeks before your initial eye examination.
On the day of surgery, take a light meal. Avoid wearing eye makeup and bulky ear or hair accessories as these may interfere with your head positioning. Your surgeon will begin with administering eye drops to numb your eyes. In case you are feeling anxious about the surgery, ask your doctor for a mild sedative.
A soft corneal suction ring is positioned to hold the eye in place during the surgery. The surgeon uses a tiny blade to cut a thin flap in front of your cornea. Next with the help of laser tiny sections of cornea are cut and remodelling is done. The flap is then carefully repositioned and placed over the cornea. Natural adhesives are used to seal the flap, without any stitches or sutures. You may hear weird clicking sounds while the laser is operating. The entire LASIK procedure takes around 20-30 minutes.
Immediately after the surgery, you will be shifted to the recovery which will be a dark place to protect your eyes. Experiencing mild eye pain and discomfort is quite common, but will gradually wean off. Your eyes may also itch, but avoid rubbing them as this may dislodge the flap. The vision may be blurry or hazy immediately after surgery, however it will improve and stabilize within the first few days.
Your doctor will prescribe a few antibiotic and anti-inflammatory eye drops for the next 10-14 days. If required oral pain medications will also be prescribed. You will be advised to wear dark protective glasses for the next few days. Plastic shields can be worn to protect the eyes while sleeping.
First follow up visit will be on the next day of the surgery. Your doctor will carefully examine the eye. You may be advised to rest for a week before resuming work or driving. Avoid swimming for at least 2 weeks after surgery. Few patients may still need to wear eye glasses post LASIK for a clear vision, although your vision prescription level will be typically lower than before.
Over the period of time your vision prescription may change even after LASIK. Small percentage of patients may require a second LASIK procedure. Elderly patients (mostly above 50 years of age) may need to continue using eye glasses for sharper vision.
LASIK surgery has been around for over 25 years. Around 90% of patients reach their vision goals post-surgery. With recent advances in technology the number is even higher.
LASIK surgery side effects
Side effects are usually rare and most of them go away over time. These include-
Seeing halos around images (especially during night driving)
It is essential to remain vigilant during the recovery period and inform your doctor if you notice any additional eye pain, severe redness and swelling in the eye, bleeding from the eye, pus or yellow discharge from the eye, double vision or cloudy vision. All these can be early signs of complications.
Need For LASIK Surgery
Refractive error is when light doesn’t focus on the retina the effective way it should and makes the vision blurry. The fundamental types include:
Nearsightedness (myopia): You see things clearly when they’re close to you, but things farther away are blurry.
Farsightedness (hyperopia): You see faraway things more clearly, but closer things are blurry.
Astigmatism: This can make everything blurry because of how your eye is shaped.
How you prepare For LASIK Surgery
Before the procedure
Careful evaluation is necessary before surgery to ensure that they are good candidates for the procedure. The Doctor may ask you to stop wearing contact lenses and glasses for at least a few weeks before your evaluation and surgery. The Doctor will enquire about your medical and surgical history. A comprehensive eye examination will be done to evaluate your vision and assess whether you can safely undergo the procedure.
Your doctor will look for signs of:
High eye pressure
The Doctor will also measure your cornea, contour, thickness, noting the shape, and any irregularities. This will help in determining the precise amount of tissue to remove from your cornea. Doctors routinely use wavefront-guided technology to evaluate your eye in detail before LASIK surgery. The doctor will also dispel any doubts and discuss the merits and risks involved in LASIK Surgery.
During the procedure
It usually takes 30 minutes to complete the LASIK surgery. During the process, medicine will be given to you for relaxation. After placing numbing eye drops, the doctors will utilize an instrument to hold your eyelids open.
The Doctor will place a suction ring on your eye before cutting the corneal flap. The eye surgeon will reshape parts of your cornea by using a programmed laser.
The Doctor will propose you to focus on the point of light. This helps in keeping your eyes fixed while the laser reshapes your cornea. If you need LASIK surgery in both eyes, it will be performed on the same day.
After the procedure
Your eye might itch, feel gritty, burn, and be watery after the surgery. Though you will experience some pain, the vision will recover quickly. To keep you comfortable for several hours after the procedure, eye drops and medications is used.
After the surgery, you will be able to see clearly, but the vision will not be clear. It will take about two to three months after your surgery before your eye heals and your vision stabilizes.
Visit your doctor for follow up appointments. The Doctor will note how the eye is healing and check for any complications.
LASIK has become the most popular method to improve vision without the hassle of glasses or contact lenses. You can achieve 20/25 vision or better after refractive surgery. After LASIK surgery, you will no longer need to use your glasses or contact lenses for most activities.