What is LASIK?
LASIK stands for Laser In-Situ Keratomileusis, and is a surgical procedure aimed at correcting vision (sight). Like other similar procedures, LASIK reshapes the cornea, the outermost layer of the eye, in order to ensure that light passing through the cornea is properly focused onto the retinal layer. For example, if you have astigmatism or suffer from nearsightedness/farsightedness, LASIK could be of help to you.
Is LASIK for you?
However, just like any other surgical procedure, LASIK isn’t for everyone. Here, we list out some of the requirements you’ll need to meet in order for LASIK to be a viable option for you:
You must be at least 18 years of age.
In general, a LASIK candidate’s eye prescription must be stable before they can be accepted for the procedure. This is why most doctors require that the patient be 18 years of age at a minimum and must have had a stable prescription for at least two years before proceeding. From the point of view of the patient, most people decide to search for an alternative to contact lenses and spectacles between the ages of 20 and 40.
You should not have any ongoing eye infections, diseases or injuries.
If you are suffering from any ongoing eye-related complaints, your doctor should be fully briefed with all the relevant details. Ongoing issues can negatively impact the healing process after LASIK surgery. For example, conditions such as dry eyes, cataracts, glaucoma and keratoconus, among others, can cause problems with the procedure. It is recommended that a prospective patient’s vision should have been stable for at least one year before the proposed date of surgery.
You should not be pregnant/nursing.
Women who are either pregnant or nursing can occasionally suffer fluctuations to their prescription thanks to hormones, so they are not eligible for the LASIK procedure. You will be able to apply for LASIK if at least three menstrual cycles have passed since you concluded nursing.
Your general health levels should be good.
Of course, this is true for most surgeries but you’ll need to be at a minimum level of good health to undergo LASIK. In particular, certain conditions such as diabetes, keloid scarring, autoimmune diseases and claustrophobia can all harmfully influence the procedure and, as such, should be thoroughly discussed with your doctor.
You should not wear contact lenses for a given period of time prior to the surgery.
One of the most important factors in determining your eligibility for LASIK is your corneal thickness. LASIK requires that a patient have a corneal thickness of at least 0.5 mm. This is why you will not be allowed to wear contact lenses for a certain amount of time before your procedure, in order to maintain your corneal thickness. After examining your eyes, your doctor will notify you of the precise length of time for which this will be necessary.
What are the types of LASIK?
There are two primary types of LASIK, based on the instrument used to perform the procedure - the microkeratome or the femtosecond laser. These two procedures are often dubbed the ‘Blade vs. the Bladeless’ versions of LASIK.
In the first type, the microkeratome - which is a precision instrument with an oscillating blade - is used to create a hinged flap in the cornea. That flap is then lifted out of the way while the procedure is carried out and then replaced.
In the second type, an ultrafast femtosecond laser is used to create the corneal flap. In all other respects, the procedure is the same as the first.
Which type of LASIK should I choose?
In the hands of a skilled surgeon, there’s very little to choose from between these two. Both have a proven record of success, so there’s no need to be worried there. The microkeratome procedure does tend to be slightly quicker, while the femtosecond procedure is usually slightly more expensive. Ultimately, consult with your doctor and see what he recommends for your particular case - you can’t go wrong either way.
What are the details of the procedure?
As with most eye surgeries, LASIK is performed on patients who are awake and reclining. Once the local anesthetic has been applied, an instrument known as the speculum is positioned so as to keep both eyes open during the surgery.
The first part of the procedure involves the use of either a microkeratome or a femtosecond laser to create a flap in the corneal surface of the eye. This flap is then lifted out of the way so that the main portion of the procedure can occur, which involves the surgeon directing a laser into the cornea, reshaping and sculpting the underlying tissue as required. Once this has been done, the flap is put back into place to begin healing. From start to finish, a typical LASIK procedure takes between ten to thirty minutes.
What is the type of anesthetic used for a LASIK procedure?
Although this can vary from patient to patient, candidates for LASIK surgery are usually prepared through the administering of a mild oral sedative. For the procedure itself, anesthetizing eye drops (local anesthesia) are used.
What happens after the procedure?
At first, your vision will be blurry - don’t be alarmed, this is quite normal. In addition, patients have been known to experience a slight irritation in their eyes. You will be provided with prescription eye drops that will help with the irritation; they also prevent inflammation and help to keep your eyes moist, so don’t forget to apply them as often as prescribed! It’s also not recommended to use any eye drops not provided by your doctor or surgeon, as they might cause complications with your recovery.
Your sight will begin to clear soon, either the same night or perhaps the next day. As always, resting is the most important post-procedural responsibility a patient has, and can ensure rapid healing. You should be seeing noticeable improvements in your vision over the next couple of days.
For follow-up procedures, consult your doctor and visit him/her for an evaluation when recommended.
That’s everything you need to know about LASIK. Every year, thousands of people undergo this procedure in order to improve their lives. In fact, Shah Rukh Khan is one of the most high-profile Indians to have had this procedure done in order to correct his vision, while Raima Sen also followed suit. Moving further afield, other famous actors and actresses who’ve elected for LASIK include Brad Pitt and Nicole Kidman, while NBA star LeBron James also opted for the surgery. Celebrities aside, LASIK can have a profound impact on your life so give it serious consideration - living the rest of your life with perfect vision is not something you’d wish to take lightly!