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How Does LASIK Work?



More commonly referred to as LASIK surgery, Laser-Assisted in Situ Keratomileusis is a form of refractive surgery intended to fix common vision issues like nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism. Because it uses a laser to conduct the operation, it is often also referred to as laser eye surgery. Usually, people decide to undergo this procedure since they want to stop wearing contacts and glasses. Whether it succeeds ultimately depends on the patient and the skill of the surgeon.

The LASIK procedure has several steps to it, starting with evaluating the eligibility of the patient. If they fit well, then the optometrist needs to see whether the eyes are both healthy and in good condition outside of the vision problem in need of correction. Additionally, the surgeon will determine what level of correction the eyes need before informing the patient of the risks LASIK bears.

The surgeon will apply eye drops to numb the patient’s eyes on the day of the procedure. The eye drops also serve as protection against infection and inflammation. Reclining the patient on a table, the surgeon starts the process by cutting a flap in the upper cornea layer, moving it aside to gain access to the center layer.

From there, the surgeon prepares the laser and focuses it in the open area, reshaping it through a procedure called ablation. A series of pulses reshapes the cornea to try and correct the vision problem. The surgeon will then replace the cornea flap and check for any debris or wrinkles.

Usually, the patient will see an immediate change in vision, and the surgeon provides recommendations for caring for the eyes to promote healing. This period is typically brief since the cornea is one of the parts of the body that heals the quickest.

Though it is a five-minute procedure that is immediately reflected on the patient, it does come with its own set of risks, just like any other surgery. Most surgeons who specialize in the procedure claim that serious complications are low, though some do warrant concern.

The most common problem from LASIK surgery is no noticeable increase in vision; some patients who have surgery will require a second one. The patient must incur this expense since most insurance plans will not even cover the first surgery, let alone a return visit.

Because of this, there is not only a health risk involved but a financial risk. Though every patient needs to be examined to be a valid candidate, each applicant should ensure that they can afford a repeat visit if necessary and determine whether the surgeon and his or her staff are experienced enough for the procedure.

Other problems that LASIK patients may face after the procedure include “halo” vision, blurred night vision, and dry eyes. Sometimes, people have been known to have even worse vision than before they had the surgery. These are the risks that the surgeon needs to explain thoroughly before they permit them to have any surgery. Though it is rare to have more severe problems, it is still a possibility. This includes a total loss of vision and corneal damage. These are critical issues that the surgeon must explain him- or herself thoroughly, not by proxy through a staff member.

Millions of people have successfully had LASIK surgery just in the United States, so if one feels the benefits outweigh the potential risks, there are ways they can increase the likelihood of success. For instance, patients will want to go for a more experienced surgeon, not necessarily an older individual, as this does not equate to a better surgeon. Note that the surgery has only been around for a short while, so the number of operations the surgeon has performed is what is essential.

The facility should also permit the patient to consult with the surgeon before the surgery takes place and that they have a thorough evaluation. For laser eye surgery, a specific procedure takes place to determine whether the patient qualifies. Lesser experienced individuals can misdiagnose a problem that causes vision errors that do not respond to laser surgery. Additionally, those who do get the operation should make sure they listen to all of the recommendations for promoting healing.

The decision to have eye surgery is a serious one, so patients should never take it lightly. It is crucial to find a good ophthalmologist and to ensure that one fully grasps the potential risks of having LASIK eye surgery done, which can include anything from burst blood vessels to total vision loss and anything in between. Though LASIK is always improving, it will likely never be completely free of risks.

At the end of the day, if a patient can afford the procedure and has become comfortable with a competent surgeon who has thoroughly discussed the different risks that can occur, then the patient has the best chance for making the most out of the procedure. Just remember that while it is not the most dangerous surgical procedure, it still has its risks; though the patient, like millions of others, can walk away with better vision, it is essential to be realistic above all.