For a lot of people who have been wearing glasses or contact lenses for many years, the opportunity of having vision permanently improved is a dream come true. LASIK is a method used to correct vision in people who are short sighted, long sighted, or have astigmatism. The procedure is popular because it is highly effective, offers immediate vision correction, requires no stitches, and associated with very little pain. After LASIK, most patients will no longer need to wear corrective eyewear. If vision needs to be further improved, adjustments can still be made even years after the procedure.
When one has decided on LASIK, the initial step is consultation with a qualified eye doctor to determine the suitability of the procedure. The doctor will assess the current prescription, the general health of the patient, the state of the eyes, and will answer all queries regarding LASIK.
Once properly evaluated, a schedule can then be obtained. Before surgery, the eye doctor will give specific instructions. Contact lens wearers will need to remove the lenses for at least five days prior to the scheduled date of surgery. Avoid heavy perfumes, eye makeup, or any cosmetic especially around the eyes before surgery.
Days prior to the surgery, the surgeon will determine the thickness of the cornea along with other tests such as refraction, corneal mapping, pupil dilation, and air pressure. With this information, the doctor can determine the location as well as the amount of corneal tissue to be removed.
The procedure will take place while the patient is awake. To numb the eye for surgery, anaesthetic drops will be instilled. For some anxious patients, a relaxant can be given. A drape is placed to keep the lashes out of the way. The eyes should focus on a blinking red light to keep them properly positioned. The surgeon then marks the cornea with water-soluble ink to guide replacement of the flap.
The eye is held steady with a specially designed suction ring. This secures the eye and maintains pressure within the eye during the creation of the flap. A device called a microkeratome is used to cut a very small hinged flap along the outer layer of the cornea. During the flap creation, there may be a sensation of pressure and a grayness of vision. After the corneal flap is created, this is then folded back to expose the portion beneath. The procedure is called keratectomy.
The cornea is then reshaped with the use of a pre programmed excimer laser precisely guided by a computer. This enables the surgeon to remove micron thick layers of corneal tissue. A rapid clicking sound may be heard and this is due to the laser. In less than a minute, high energy pulses and ultraviolet light reshape the cornea with extreme accuracy. This step changes the refractive power of the cornea to correct the refractive error of the eye.
When the corneal remodeling is complete, the flap is then gently placed back on its original position. The eye surgeon waits for a couple of minutes to ensure bonding. No stitches are made since the cornea bonds quickly and the healing is rapid.
After the surgery, a protective eye shield may be given and a mild pain reliever is prescribed. Some discomfort, itching, and slight watering of the eyes can be felt during this time. The patient should rest for a few hours to allow the eyes to adjust to the changes. Eye drops are given to help the eye heal as well as an antibiotic and possibly an anti inflammatory drug for any minor swelling in the eye. After the LASIK procedure, a return visit to the doctor is usually done within 24 to 48 hours.
The eyes should not be touched, poked, or rubbed in the days following surgery. Expect slightly blurry vision for a few days. Most people are able to work 24 hours after the procedure and there will be continuous improvement of vision in the succeeding days.