“Millions of people around the world have had LASIK and the vast majority have been able to completely eradicate their dependence on glasses or contact lenses.”
Dr Michael Lawless explains who is a good candidate for this form of laser vision correction. Dr Guy Olorenshaw explains the procedure.
LASIK (Laser in Situ Keratomileusis) is by far the most common type of laser eye surgery performed – around 90% of patients who seek out laser vision correction will have this procedure, which uses a femtosecond laser to create a hinged ‘flap’.
The use of the femtosecond laser for vision correction represents the most significant advance since the very first laser procedure was performed in New York in 1987. LASIK can treat myopia, hyperopia and astigmatism.
Millions of people around the world have had LASIK and the vast majority have found that their vision has been corrected to the point that they have been able to completely eradicate their dependence on glasses or contact lenses.
Although LASIK and ASLA produce exactly the same results, surgeons are likely to offer LASIK as the best option for the simple fact that the patient benefits from a faster and relatively comfortable recovery. The correction to their vision is immediate, although it will settle down over the following days and weeks. LASIK allows a surgeon to have easy access to the corneal bed (the stroma).
The laser precisely creates a thin flap of corneal tissue that remains intact via a ‘hinge’. To be suitable for LASIK, a patient needs to have a ‘regular’ shaped cornea and adequate corneal thickness. Patients with thin or irregularly shaped corneas (about 10%) do not qualify for LASIK and will most likely be recommended ASLA to correct their vision.
LASIK is a two-step, two laser vision correction procedure. Once a patient has been prepared (including being given a series of drops and a mild sedative), they will be taken into the laser suite and will lie flat on the bed. The surgeon will have already programmed the two lasers to ensure that both are set to achieve the precise refractive requirements of the particular patient.
After preparing the first eye, the surgeon will use the femtosecond laser to create the flap. Now that the surgeon has access to the corneal bed, the excimer laser will be used to reshape the corneal bed with microscopic precision. The high power ultraviolet output of the laser tracks across the eye, gently removing the exact amount of tissue needed to correct vision.
Once the second step is performed, the surgeon gently replaces the corneal flap and ensures it is properly in place. Because the flap adheres to the corneal bed, the healing process begins immediately. The ability of the eye to self-heal allows people who have undergone this form of laser vision correction to return to most of their daily activities the following day. Learn more.
A patient having LASIK will be in the laser suite for less than 30 minutes. They can return home shortly after leaving the laser suite but must be accompanied by a friend or family member because their vision will be slightly blurry. They will be given a series of drops and other medications and be asked to rest their eyes as much as possible.
During the post-operative consultation (usually the next day), the eyesight will be tested – most people will find that they are now legally able to drive a car without glasses or contact lenses. It is normal to have fluctuations in vision for the first week following the procedure but vision stabilises quickly.