LASIK, short for laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis, is the most popular refractive surgery available today. Each year, more than one million LASIK procedures are performed in the United States. LASIK has become the premier surgery for vision correction because it's quick and painless, there is little or no discomfort after the procedure and vision recovery is rapid – many of our patients see 20/20 the following day! LASIK can correct nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism.
The LASIK procedure
LASIK is an ambulatory, same day procedure for both eyes. The actual surgery usually takes less than 15 minutes. LASIK is a two-step procedure. The surgeon first creates a thin, hinged flap of tissue on your cornea with an instrument called a microkeratome or with a laser. This flap is folded back and the second step – the laser reshaping of your eye – begins. After the laser treatment, which usually takes less than a minute, the flap is repositioned and the surgeon moves on to your other eye.
What is wavefront LASIK?
Wavefront LASIK (also called wavefront-assisted or custom LASIK) means the laser treatment (or "ablation") is determined by a computerized mapping of the power of your eye called wavefront analysis. Wavefront-guided procedures are more precise and allow for the correction of optical imperfections of the eye called "higher-order aberrations". This technology provides sharper vision than conventional, non-wavefront LASIK and reduces the risk of nighttime glare and halos.
Am I a good candidate for LASIK?
To be a good candidate for LASIK, you should be at least 18 years old, have healthy eyes, and have adequate corneal thickness since LASIK corrects your vision by removing tissue from your cornea to reshape your eye. Chronic dry eye problems, corneal diseases and other abnormalities may disqualify you from having LASIK surgery. In order to know for sure if you are a good candidate, Dr. Smith will perform a comprehensive eye exam.
Worried about LASIK?
If you are considering LASIK and worried that something could go wrong, you might take comfort in knowing that it's very rare for complications from this procedure to cause permanent, significant vision loss. Also, many complications can be resolved through laser re-treatment.
Selecting the right eye surgeon probably is the single most important step you can take to decrease any risks associated with LASIK. An experienced, reputable surgeon will make sure you are a good candidate for LASIK before a procedure is recommended. Dr. Smith always takes a conservative approach in determining your candidacy of being a potential LASIK patient.
To find out if you're a good candidate for LASIK, visit River Place Vision Center for a comprehensive eye exam and refractive surgery consultation with Dr. Smith.
LASIK Criteria for Success
Laser eye surgery isn't for everyone. Here are some guidelines to help you decide if LASIK is right for you:
- Are your eyes healthy? If you have any condition that can affect how your eyes respond to surgery or heal afterwards, wait until that condition is resolved. Examples include chronic dry eyes, conjunctivitis ("pink eye") and any eye injury. Some conditions, such as cataracts, keratoconus and uncontrolled glaucoma, may disqualify you completely.
- Are you an adult? You need to be at least 18 years of age to have LASIK.
- Is your vision stable? Many teenagers and young adults experience changes in their prescription for eyeglasses or contact lenses from year-to-year. Make sure your prescription is stable for a 12-month period before having LASIK.
- Are you pregnant? Hormonal changes during pregnancy can cause swelling in your corneas, thus changing your vision. Dry eyes are also common when you're pregnant. Typically we must wait 3-6 months after birth/ breast-feeding before having LASIK.
- Certain systemic and autoimmune diseases may be disqualifiers as well. Examples include rheumatoid arthritis, type 1 diabetes, HIV and AIDS. Basically, if your body has any trouble with healing, your corneas may not heal properly after LASIK. Opinions vary among surgeons as to which diseases are automatic disqualifiers and which ones might pose acceptable risks in certain cases.
- Your prescription must be within certain limits. For example, very high amounts of myopia, which would require removal of too much corneal tissue, may preclude LASIK or make another type of refractive surgery a better option. For example, many surgeons feel a phakic IOL procedure provides a better visual outcome and poses less risk than LASIK for nearsighted prescriptions higher than -9.00 diopters.
Eyewear after LASIK
Keep in mind that, even if your vision seems perfect after LASIK, you may still need eyewear. When outdoors, it's important to protect your eyes from the sun's harmful rays with sunglasses that provide 100% UV protection. If you play sports, work with power tools, or doing anything else when an eye injury is possible make sure you have polycarbonate lenses for extra protection. In addition, if you're over 40 (or soon will be), it's likely you'll need reading glasses after LASIK.
Eye care after LASIK
Don't forget to continue to have routine eye exams after LASIK. Even if your vision is perfect, you will still need to have eye health evaluations on an annual basis. Routine exams also help you make sure your vision stays stable after LASIK. River Place Vision Center is always happy to serve all your eyewear and eye care needs after your LASIK surgery.