If you are nearsighted, farsighted, or have astigmatism, there are now many options for improving your vision. Your best option may still be eyeglasses or contact lenses, but if you would like to lessen your dependence on corrective lenses, LASIK might be the answer.

How Does Laser Vision Correction Work?

Like the lens in a camera, a perfectly shaped cornea (the thin membrane that covers the front of your eye) focuses light rays precisely on the retina at the back of your eye. Most people are born with corneas that are less than perfect in shape, resulting in blurred images being sent by the retina through the optic nerve to the brain. The objective of laser vision correction is to reshape the cornea to correct these imperfections. Nearsightedness is corrected by flattening the cornea, and astigmatism by giving the cornea a more even curvature.

What is LASIK and How Does it Work?

LASIK (Laser In-Situ Keratomileusis) is the most popular of the modern laser vision correction procedures. It is performed on an outpatient basis and takes just a few seconds per eye. In preparation for the surgery, a complete eye exam is done including a corneal topography – a topographical map of the cornea. The results of the data gathered by the pre-operative exam are entered into a computer that is part of the Excimer laser system. The computer then calculates the sculpting pattern and, during the procedure, directs the application of the laser under the guidance of an eye surgeon.
The first step in LASIK is the application of anesthetic eye drops that keep the patient comfortable during the procedure. An automated microkeratome is then used to separate and lift a thin flap from the front of the cornea. After the flap is lifted, the patient is asked to focus on a small red light while the Excimer laser removes microscopic layers of cornea. The flap is then carefully folded back in

As the anesthetic drops wear off, the patient my experience some light sensitivity and a scratchy or dry sensation in the eye. This feeling usually goes away within a few hours. Most patients notice an immediate improvement in vision, although vision can continue to improve for several weeks before stabilizing. There is little post-operative discomfort.

What are the Advantages of LASIK?

  • LASIK is virtually painless outpatient procedure with rapid recovery.
  • After the procedure, most patients will be able to see clearly without glasses or contact lenses.
  • The need for retreatment is greatly reduced (less than 5%) due to the precision of the computer-assisted laser.

What are Some of the Disadvantages/Risks of LASIK?

  • Some patients may experience a glare or ‘halo’ around bright lights for a time after the surgery.
  • Occasionally, an eye may be undercorrected and need ‘enhancement’ surgery.
  • Very rarely, patients may have double or hazy vision, fluctuating vision, increased sensitivity to light, or irregular healing which can lead to astigmatism.
  • Most insurance plans do not pay for LASIK procedure.

Are You a Candidate for Laser Vision Correction?

You could enjoy the benefits of LASIK if:

  • You would like to see clearly without glasses or contact lenses.
  • Your refractive error is within the guidelines established for laser vision correction.
  • Your eyes are healthy and your vision is stable.