People can suffer from visual problems at different times in life for a variety of reasons. In the past, there was often little that medical science could do, besides prescribe eyeglasses. During the 20th century, surgeons began to advance certain techniques which had been previously suggested to treat damage to the eyes and general degeneration of the vision. The LASIK method of vision repair has developed over the decades and is now one of the most well-known methods of recovering good vision after it has been lost due to age or other factors.
What Is LASIK?
LASIK is a refractive surgery. It is distinguished from earlier forms of refractive surgery because surgeons use a laser instead of a metal blade to correct problems in the eyes. The goal of the surgery is to remove erroneous tissues within the cornea that contribute to wide range of visual problems, such as myopia, hyperopia and astigmatism.
Prior to surgery, your surgeon will give you instructions about contact lenses if you wear them. These should be removed a minimum of five days before surgery but your surgeon may have additional requests. In some cases, a doctor will instruct patients to stop wearing contact lenses for several weeks in advance of a surgery. This is often the case with hard contact lenses.
There are other pre-operative issues to manage. For example, the surgeon will need to verify that your eye prescription has remained stable in the previous year. Various other tests will be performed.
On the day of surgery, you will arrive at the surgical center or hospital and meet the surgical team. One of the members of this team will examine your corneas with a corneal topography machine. This device will create a map to which the surgeon will be able to refer during surgery.
Sometimes, nervous patients will request a sedative. This is not a problem if you wish to be somewhat sedated. However, general anesthesia is not required for the operation. Many patients remain wide awake during surgery. All patients receive some anesthetic eye drops just prior to the beginning of the operation.
Someone on the surgical team will help you lie down on the operating table. He or she will apply a corneal suction ring to the eye that will be operated on. This device appears little intimidating but it is an important addition to the surgery because it keeps your eyelids from interfering with the delicate work required. Sometimes, the corneal suction ring will cause an insignificant amount of damage to the surrounding tissue and bring on some bleeding. However, this issue typically resolves itself before the bandages are removed after surgery.
The surgeon will then create the flap. This is the term used to describe how he or she makes incisions around the outer cornea of the eye with a small metal blade or with a laser that is distinct form the laser used later in the operation. A single side of the cornea is left uncut. This portion acts as a hinge for the flap, which is now turned back to reveal the middle cornea. This may create some discomfort, even with anesthetic eye drops having been administered. You may note that the quality of your vision changes as the flap is created.
Only now is the excimer laser turned on. The surgeon will use it to remodel the revealed portion of the cornea. This part of the process does not usually cause any pain. The laser vaporizes tiny layers of tissue that are just micrometers in thickness. This laser does not damage surrounding tissue.
The laser is usually only on for a matter of seconds. The process is that quick. After checking to make sure that there are no air bubbles or debris left in the middle cornea, the surgeon will close the flap. There is no need to suture it as the eye will heal this injury in a matter of days. The doctor prescribes an antibiotic ointment as well as some anti-inflammatory eye drops and administers them. At this point, members of the surgical team will help to bandage the eye. The entire process may only take half an hour form the time that you walk in to the time that you leave the surgical center.
Is LASIK Right for Me?
Not everyone chooses LASIK as a solution to their vision problems. Nor is it a suitable solution for everyone. You have to determine if this scenario sounds like something with which you would be comfortable first. Then you need to discuss the option with a qualified surgeon. If you do go ahead with it, you have a very good chance of seeing as well as you did when you were a kid. In fact, some people emerge from surgery with better vision that they ever had.