Are you ready to move beyond your eyeglasses or contact lenses? If yes, than LASIK Eye Surgery may be the right procedure for you. LASIK , or “laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis” is one of the most popular types of laser eye surgery. As a refractive procedure, it can correct common vision problems such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism by altering the way light is bent (refracted) by your eye.
Are You a Candidate?
An eye exam can determine whether this procedure may be able to improve your vision. You may be a good candidate if you are:
- Currently wearing glasses or contact lenses
- Your prescription has not changed over the last two years
- Are nearsighted, farsighted, or have an astigmatism.
You may NOT be able to have LASIK if you:
- Have vision that has not been stable
- Have dry eyes
- Are under age 18
- Are pregnant or breast-feeding
- Have a corneal disease or abnormality
- Have an autoimmune or connective tissue disease
Certain eye conditions, health problems, or medications may interfere with your ability to undergo LASIK. For example, if a patient has large pupils, thin corneas, or corneal surface irregularities they may not be good candidates. Although, there are other forms of refractive surgeries that may be an option, such as PRK surgery.
The LASIK Procedure
Before the surgery, your surgeon will measure your cornea to find out where it needs reshaping and program these measurements into the laser. If you are getting wave-front assisted LASIK, you will have your eyes scanned to create a detailed map of their surfaces. This might make the laser more accurate, but it costs more and doesn’t necessarily end in better results.
LASIK is an outpatient procedure usually done under local anesthesia in the surgeon’s office or an outpatient surgical center. The surgeon cuts a small flap in your cornea and the pre-programmed laser repeatedly removes tiny amount of tissue, without damaging nearby tissue, until it has reshaped your cornea correctly.
Each eye takes 15 minutes or less, and the entire procedure from preparation to the time you leave the recovery room shouldn’t be more than two hours.
LASIK Side Effects
LASIK is a very safe procedure, but every surgery comes with some risks. Common temporary side effects of LASIK are:
- Eye irritation and watering
- Dry-eye symptoms, which can last for six months or so and can usually be relieved with eyedrops
- Blurry vision, which may last up to a week
The risk of more serious complications is low, but may include:
- Double vision, usually only in one eye
- Clouded vision, which is usually temporary and caused by inflammation, but may require more surgery to correct
- Trouble with night vision, like halos around lights
- Sensitivity to bright lights
- Over- or under-correction
- Astigmatism, caused by uneven removal of tissue
- Corneal infection, which can threaten your vision
- Increased pressure in the eye, which can lead to glaucoma and also threaten your vision
LASIK Recovery Time
Recovery is usually very fast and most people see clearly by the day after surgery, although it can take about a week. You will need someone to drive you home, even if you can see well. If your vision is blurry, do not drive until it has cleared.
You will probably need to wear an eye patch for part of the day on the first few days. Your doctor will probably give you a prescription for eyedrops to reduce discomfort and inflammation and to prevent infection. Use them for as long as directed, possibly several months.
You will return to the surgeon within the next day or two and will need regular follow-up visits for about six months.
For two weeks after surgery, avoid:
- Vigorous activity
- Eye makeup
- Getting water in the eye
The majority of people who get LASIK end up with better eyesight, but how much better depends on how bad their vision was to begin with. Most patients achieve at least 20/40 vision. Up to 72% of people with mild to moderate myopia end up with at least 20/20 vision, and about 64% of those with high myopia also achieved this clarity
What Does LASIK Cost?
The cost of LASIK eye surgery does vary, but is usually between $1,000 and $5,000. Unfortunately, it is typically considered an elective procedure and is not usually covered by health insurance. However, do not let the cost steer you away from getting your vision corrected. There are many doctors who offer financing options for those who can’t afford the upfront fee. While you are encouraged to shop around to make sure you’re getting a good deal, do not base your decision on price alone.
- LASIK Astigmatism: Author: David R Hardten, MD; Chief Editor: Hampton Roy, Sr, MD
- ASCRS: LASIK is alive and well; Eric, Donnenfeld, MD (n.d)
- FDA: LASIK Eye Surgery (n.d.)
- Quality of Vision and Quality of Life with LASIK (n.d.)