LASIK surgery, in a nutshell, is a medical procedure that involves reshaping the cornea to address vision problems.
These days, everyone seems to be undergoing this surgery. But what is LASIK surgery, and how exactly does it end your eye woes?
LASIK stands for laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis. The first laser eye surgery took place in 1987, and this was performed by Dr. Stephen L. Trokel. He used the excimer laser for the procedure, and in 1996, the United States (US) approved said laser for eye-related refractive uses.
In 1991, Dr. Stephen Slade and Dr. Stephen Brint performed LASIK surgery in the United States. They were the first ophthalmologists to do this. Then in 1996, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave the thumbs-up for LASIK surgery.
The surgery is an outpatient medical procedure, and it takes only about 10 to 30 minutes. The doctor leads you into a room with a reclining chair and the laser machine. He’ll instruct you to lie down on the chair, and he’ll place drops on your eyes to “numb” them. Then he’ll attach a lid speculum, which is a device used to keep your eyelids open.
The doctor gets down to business. He grabs his surgical tools, either a microkeratome or a femtosecond laser, and with them incises a thin “flap” in your cornea. He folds back this flap, and now he has access to the stroma, which is the section lying beneath the cornea.
The doctor grabs the excimer laser. This laser, with its ultraviolet light beam, reshapes the cornea. For reshaping to occur, the laser removes teensy-weensy amounts of corneal tissue, keeping at the task until the desired shape is reached.
The doctor inspects the cornea. Once he’s satisfied with the new shape, he secures the flap back into place. Since the cornea naturally keeps the flap in place, the doctor need not perform stitches.
Voilà! Your LASIK surgery is done and complete.
LASIK surgery may have gained approval from medical authorities, but not everyone is qualified for the procedure. Doctors need to keep stringent standards in place to minimize risks and ensure quality results of these surgeries.
According to the FDA and the American Academy of Ophthalmology, you need to meet these criteria before you can undergo LASIK surgery:
According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, of the different kinds of refractive surgery, LASIK is the most widely performed. It is used to address these three primary refractive problems, which are experienced by as many as 2.3 billion people all over the world:
You have myopia when nearby objects appear clear. The same can’t be said for faraway objects.
You have hyperopia when faraway objects appear clear and nearby objects don’t. This is the opposite of myopia.
You have astigmatism when images appear distorted and/or blurred.
In presbyopia, nearby objects appear blurry, like the case with myopia. However, presbyopia is brought about by the natural aging process of the body. This affects individuals who are of middle age and above.
Ensure a smooth surgery and an excellent outcome by doing the following:
Contact lenses affect the shape of your cornea, and this alteration can lead to surgical measurement errors. In the weeks leading to your operation, it’s recommended you stop wearing your contact lenses.
On the day of your surgery, skip your usual primping arsenal. Avoid putting on eye cream and facial lotions, as this reduces the chances of debris getting into your eye.
LASIK surgery results don’t happen instantly. Therefore, your vision may still be blurry after the procedure, and this limits your ability to drive. Furthermore, to make you relax during the surgery, your doctor may give you medications. Be on the safe side by having someone take you home after the surgery.
While LASIK surgery is generally safe, as with any medical procedure, it carries with it certain side effects. After the operation, take note if you experience any of the following:
You can count on itching and burning peepers after the procedure. Maybe you’ll feel like there’s something in your eye, and sometimes, your eye may even become watery. Rest assured, these reactions are completely normal, and you’ve nothing to worry about.
Blurry vision is expected after the operation, and this is why you need someone to drive you home afterward.
If light of any kind suddenly hurts your eyes, don’t panic. Most patients report sensitivity to light after LASIK surgery. In fact, you may even see starbursts or halos around lights, but these should disappear a few days after your surgery.
LASIK surgery affects the production of tears by the lacrimal glands, thereby reducing lubrication in the eyes. Almost 50 percent of LASIK surgery recipients experience this.
Dry eyes increase irritation and blurry vision, but good thing this event is temporary. Doctors use eye drops to combat this side effect, and once healing keeps on, this condition also disappears.
The effects of LASIK surgery take a while to reveal themselves. In general, expect your vision to be stable a few days after the procedure. For better results, and for a faster recovery, keep these tips in mind:
Rubbing can dislodge the flap in your cornea, and you definitely do not want that to happen.
Your eye shields protect your peepers, especially when you sleep at night. Put them on before you hit the sack.
LASIK surgery requires religious follow-ups to ensure things go as planned and no complications occur. Be a good client, and show up to your appointments.
When you notice new or worsening symptoms after your surgery, call your doctor immediately. Even if you’re days from your follow-up appointment, it’s best to err on the side of caution.
Most insurance companies don’t cover costs for LASIK surgery. To them, the procedure is an elective one, meaning it has no medical purpose whatsoever.
It’s no secret that prices for LASIK surgery are pretty steep. In the United States, in 2015, LASIK costs an average of $2,077 per eye. This value changes, though, depending on the type of technology used and the kind of treatment given.
Fortunately, insurance companies and LASIK surgery clinics themselves now offer financing for the procedure. You can avail of long-term payment schemes to undergo LASIK surgery.
Note: avoid choosing a doctor or clinic based on cost alone. You’re putting your eyes on the line here, and they deserve the best treatment.
Be skeptical of advertisements that promote “great” deals and “low, low” prices on LASIK surgery. As they say, if it’s too good to be true, it probably is.
The success of LASIK surgery on an individual hinges on several factors. What works for one may not work for you, and vice versa.
In conclusion, there are no set guidelines you can use to determine if LASIK surgery is right for you.
What you can do, though, is sit down with your doctor and engage in a discussion with him. He can help you make an informed choice regarding LASIK surgery.