Deciding on LASIK
Imagine being able to work, drive, and play sports without having to depend on glasses or contact lenses. LASIK (laser in-situ keratomileusis) may make this a reality for you. This laser eye surgery can treat many common vision problems.
Your Edison, Warren, and Piscataway eye care team
You may work with the following eye specialists:
- An ophthalmologist, a physician who performs your surgery and oversees your eye care.
- An ophthalmic technician, who may assist during LASIK surgery.
What LASIK can do
LASIK (pronounced “LAY-sik”) can improve your vision. This procedure reshapes the cornea (surface of the eye), helping to more clearly focus what you see. Advanced laser technology makes LASIK fast and often painless. Vision begins to improve soon after surgery, and may become stable within weeks.
Today’s LASIK technology
Tools that your eye doctor may use during LASIK include:
- An excimer laser, which produces a concentrated beam of cool ultraviolet (UV) light. Each pulse of this laser can remove a tiny portion of corneal tissue. An excimer laser is so accurate that it can cut a notch in a human hair. It generates no heat and is gentle to tissue.
- A microkeratome, a microsurgical instrument that can make extremely thin, precise cuts.
- A femtosecond laser, which produces rapid pulses of light. Like a microkeratome, it can make thin, precise cuts.
What you should consider: LASIK is not for everyone. Be sure to discuss your medical history with your eye doctor. You may not be a good candidate if you:
- Do not have stable vision.
- Have a vision problem that is too severe.
- Have a disease or condition that slows healing or increases your risk of infection.
- Are taking certain medications.
- Are pregnant or nursing, or are planning to become pregnant in the near future.
- Are uncomfortable with the idea that you may still need glasses or contacts after LASIK surgery.
How the eye works
Sharp vision depends on many factors. The parts of the eye work together to refract (bend and focus) light rays. If the cornea or the eyeball as a whole is not the right shape, light doesn’t focus correctly, and vision is blurry.
Turning light into sight
Light enters the eye through the cornea, the eye’s clear, dome-shaped covering. The cornea bends light rays to help focus them. Light rays then pass through the pupil to the lens, which changes shape (accommodates) to aid in focusing these rays. Light then reaches the retina (inside lining of the eye). The retina sends signals to the brain, which tells you what you’re seeing.
- Hyperopia (farsightedness) occurs when light focuses behind the retina. Nearby objects appear blurry.
- Astigmatism occurs when light focuses in more than one place. Both nearby and distant objects are distorted.
- Emmetropia (normal vision) is maintained when light focuses on the retina.
- Myopia (nearsightedness) occurs when light focuses in front of the retina. Distant objects appear blurry.
Evaluating your vision
- Tests of refraction (your corrective lens prescription).
- Measurement of your pupil.
- A thorough exam of your cornea.
- Mapping or scanning of the corneal surface to reveal its exact shape.
- Ultrasound (images made using sound waves) to measure corneal thickness.
- Dilation (enlargement) of your pupil to allow your eye doctor to examine the inside of your eye.
- Questions about your general health, eye health, and medical history.
How LASIK treats vision problems
LASIK permanently reshapes the cornea so that light focuses correctly. First, the surgeon uses a microkeratome or a femtosecond laser to create a flap in the surface of the cornea. He or she then uses an excimer laser to reshape the cornea. Finally, the flap is replaced so the cornea can heal.
If you’re over 40
With age, the eye’s lens becomes stiff and can’t accommodate easily. This causes presbyopia (difficulty focusing on nearby objects). LASIK can’t treat presbyopia, so if you’re over 40 you may need reading glasses even after surgery. Another option for coping with presbyopia is monovision. To create monovision, LASIK is used to adjust one eye for near vision and the other for distance vision. This option is not for everyone, so discuss it with your eye doctor.
A trial period of monovision using contact lenses may help you decide if it’s right for you.
Your Edison, Warren, or Piscataway eye doctor will discuss with you how to prepare for surgery. You’ll also decide whether both eyes will be treated in the same session. Arrange in advance for a ride home after surgery.
What to expect during the procedure:
- The LASIK procedure is quick and causes little or no discomfort. The procedure takes about 15 minutes for each eye.
- You may be given medication to help you relax. You then lie on your back in a reclining chair.
- The area around your eyes is cleaned. Eyedrops numb your eye. Your eyelashes are taped out of the way. A small device keeps your eye open.
- A suction ring is then placed on the eye. This will cause your vision to dim and may cause slight discomfort.
- Your surgeon creates a flap in the surface of your cornea. This takes less than a minute. You may feel light pressure,
- During the rest of the procedure, your vision is blurry.
- The laser is positioned above your eye. You are asked to stare at a light. When your eye is in the right position, the laser is activated.
- You will hear the laser clicking. After 10 to 90 seconds, laser treatment is finished.
- The flap is then put back in place. The corneal tissue sticks to itself.
- After surgery, your eye doctor monitors your progress and postoperative care.
While you recover, you may wear a shield to protect your eye. At first, your eye may itch, burn, or feel irritated. It may also water or hurt a little. To promote healing:
- Protect your eye from bumps and pokes. Don’t scratch, rub, or touch your eye.
- Use eye drops as directed by your eye doctor. You may be prescribed several kinds of drops.
- Follow your eye doctor’s instructions about sports, swimming, driving, and other activities. Wear sunglasses and restrict your use of makeup and sunscreen as directed.
As your vision improves
- You may have mild blurry vision at first. If you have vision problems, you may notice them more at night.
- Vision often clears within a few days. It should become stable in 4 to 12 weeks.
- If you’re over 40, you may need reading glasses, even if you didn’t use them before.
- In follow-up visits, your eye doctor will monitor healing and vision changes.
Risks and complications
You may experience temporary or permanent:
Medical complications may include:
- Flap problems
- Vision loss
Call your doctor if:
- You have increased pain more than 24 hours after surgery.
- You have discharge, redness, or increased irritation.
- Your vision worsens.
In the Edison, Warren, or Piscataway, NJ area? Contact our office to schedule a free consultation to see if you are a candidate for any of these procedures, or fill out this form for a coordinator to contact you.