LASIK eye surgery is the most common form of eye surgery amongst those looking to improve their vision and the current state of their eye health. It is a state of permanent correction that is commonly used to treat conditions such as myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), and astigmatism, which is a defect in the eye or in a lens caused by a deviation from the natural spherical curvature of the eye, resulting in distorted images in your visual field.
Currently, there are nearly 20 million people who have enjoyed the ease that comes from not having to wear their contact lenses or eyeglasses through the miracle of LASIK eye surgery. There are approximately 5,000 surgeons in the United States alone who perform this kind of refractive surgery, and there are well over 1,000 centers nationwide where you can have the procedure done.
With the help of this article, we hope to educate you about both the benefits and potential risks of LASIK eye surgery, while giving you all the information that you need to determine if you’re a good candidate, how to find a good doctor, and how to determine whether or not the small risks incurred are worthwhile to you.
Are You a Good Candidate for LASIK?
First and foremost, before we launch into the rest of the discussion, it’s important to determine whether or not you’re a good candidate for standard LASIK surgery. Unfortunately, to date, not everyone who is looking to improve their vision without the use of contact lenses and eyeglasses is a perfect fit for the procedure.
That being said, we’re happy to report that the large majority of people are suitable candidates for LASIK eye surgery. Note, however, that it’s still important to discuss your medical and eye history with your doctor before making a final decision about whether or not the procedure is right for you.
Here are a few circumstances under which you may not be the best candidate for LASIK eye surgery:
If you have a pre-existing, long-standing eye condition or disease that affects your vision in a significant way. Examples of conditions as such include glaucoma, cataracts, many corneal diseases, chronic dry eyes, chronic autoimmune disorders, large pupils, or other thinning disorders associated with the cornea.
In addition to the more-permanently impaired conditions listed above, you may not be a great candidate for LASIK eye surgery if you are pregnant or are currently experiencing any kind of temporary visual instability or compromised visual acuity. If any of the above are true, you should consider waiting until the condition has cleared before you proceed with LASIK eye surgery.
Find a Good Surgeon
When it comes to the health of your eyes and the state of your vision, you really don’t want to settle for a doctor who you aren’t completely confident is going to perform to your expectations and up to current medical standards. Luckily, medical professionals in the United States are very well-trained and sufficiently educated in order to perform the surgery with very little in the way of complications.
In fact, LASIK is known to have an immensely high success rate, with more than 96% of patients achieving 20/20 or greater vision. Now that’s something to look forward to!
With that being said, here are a few tips to find the best possible eye surgeon for your personal procedure:
Look for a doctor who uses the most advanced and up-to-date FDA approved eye technology. Technology and surgical equipment change quickly with the help of modern advancements; ask your doctor about what kind of tools are being used to be absolutely sure that they’re going to use nothing but the best and most current medical equipment.
Is your doctor a LASIK specialist, or is LASIK surgery something that he or she simply does on the side? Keep in mind that you’re likely to get better results with a specialist, as the more procedures a doctor has performed, the more likely they are to be an expert with their knowledge and skills.
Ask lots of questions! You can never be too safe, and you can never be too sure. Take as much time as you need to make sure that you feel comfortable with the doctor that you’ve chosen, and that you understand the in’s and the out’s of the procedure you’re about to have performed in it’s entirety.
How is the Surgery Performed?
LASIK surgery is considered a very non-invasive form of surgery and you are permitted to remain fully conscious throughout the course of the procedure. Generally speaking, the surgery is 100% pain-free and you will have very little in the way of soreness or post-operative difficulties.
Here is an overview of the successive steps that you can expect to see during the course of your LASIK eye surgery:
Step 1: The doctor will give you a local anesthetic in the form of a liquid eye drop in order to sufficiently numb the eye tissue. When administered properly, you should not feel any pain over the course of the procedure.
Step 2: Next, a medical instrument called a Speculum will be placed on your eyes in order to keep your eyes open and free from blinking. Without it, every time you blink, you would be interfering with the laser used to perform the surgery on the eyes.
Step 3: A “suction-ring” is placed on the cornea, which helps to apply pressure to the eye, thereby allowing for pain-free cutting of the cornea and surrounding tissue.
Step 4: After applying the suction-ring, the eye surgeon will very carefully cut a small flap in the cornea. The cut is so small and so infinitesimally minute that you will be sure not to feel any pain or discomfort (in combination with the help of the local anesthetic drops that you were given at the beginning of the procedure).
Step 5: After cutting the flap in the cornea, the flap is gently folded outwards, exposing the tissue underneath, in preparation for the surgical laser correction.
Step 6: Lastly, the doctor uses the laser to gently and painlessly reshape cornea, thereby correcting your myopia, hyperopia, and/or astigmatism. During this point in the procedure, you may feel a slight pressure on the eye as it is reshaped. Be sure to keep your gaze relaxed; too much tension in the eye will create subtle “flickering” movements of the eyeball, which detracts from the surgeon’s ability to use the laser with precision.
Step 7: After using the laser to correctly reshape the contour of the eyes, the corneal flaps are folded back into place and the procedure is finished. At this point, the doctor will recommend that you take complete rest for the remainder of the day, with the option to resume your normal daily activities on the following day.
Note that LASIK surgery is typically performed on each eye separately, with each eye only taking about 5 minutes to correct.
Lasik Surgery Recovery
Immediately after the surgery, you will be asked to keep your eyes closed and/or use protective eyewear in order to temporarily protect your eyes from the damage of natural sunlight and/or dust and debris in the physical environment. For this reason, it’s important to arrange transportation home in advance. You will not be able to drive.
It’s also important that you avoid rubbing or scratching your eyes after the surgery, as they are undergoing a delicate healing process and should not be disturbed under any circumstances. You may feel mild burning or itching afterwards, but please avoid touching your eyes as this could very easily disturb the process of rebalancing and rebuilding of the tissues. It is best if you avoid all physical, strenuous activity.
The large majority of people feel completely fine and energetic after their LASIK surgery, with only a small percentage of patients reporting mild pain and fatigue (which is oftentimes simply a result of the mental and emotional stress of the surgery, more so than it is the physical procedure itself).
It’s also important to know that your eyes may become slightly discolored (red or bloodshot) after LASIK surgery due to the physical stress of the procedure. Know that this is completely normal and is not a cause for alarm. That being said, feel free to contact your doctor in the event that you feel like you’re experiencing symptoms that leave you feeling distressed or uneasy.
Your doctor will most likely be willing to prescribe a mild pain-killer (in the form of eye drops) if you feel like it is needed, along with antibiotic drops to aid in the healing process.
Generally speaking, the benefits of having LASIK eye surgery far outweigh the risks and potential complications. It’s a very safe and easy procedure to perform, and there is a very well-documented history of success.
Here are a few of the benefits that you can look forward to enjoying when deciding to move ahead with your lasik surgery procedure:
It works! The large majority of people who get LASIK surgery enjoy a dramatic decrease in eyeglass and contact lens use, with many not needing them at all.
It is typically causes very little pain or is often completely pain-free.
Approximately 96% of people have achieved a state of optimal vision post-surgery.
It’s quick! The surgical process takes 30 minutes or less from beginning to end and clear vision is achieved within approximately 24 hours. Note, however, that the eyes are very delicate and can take some time to heal completely. Most people report that their vision steadily improves over the course of the first 2 to 3 months as the tissues in the eye slowly heal and grow. In some cases, your vision may steadily and subtly improve even over the course of the first 6 months.
Post-care is easy. There are no bandages or other post-surgical aids required, outside of a mild pain-killer for any eye tension that you may have and antibiotic drops to keep your eyes protected while they are vulnerable in the process of healing.
Lasik Potential Complications
Is LASIK safe As mentioned above, LASIK eye surgery is considered very-safe in the eyes of the medical community. The procedure has an excellent safety profile and enjoys very high rates of success.
Complications that may potentially threaten the integrity of your vision, such as a significant loss of vision, are considered very rare and almost unheard of in the LASIK medical community. Additionally, many small LASIK side effects surgery can be corrected or eliminated with the aid of follow-up surgery, should anything minor go wrong during the procedure.
As is the case with any kind of surgery, however, there are always risks to consider. You should always be sure that you’re fully educated about what could happen, if for no other reason than to be completely at ease with and informed about the medical procedure that you are signing up for.
Here is a short list of the potential complications that you may encounter during the process of your LASIK eye surgery:
Eye infections: Although rare, some individuals do get eye infections due the temporarily vulnerable state of the eye tissue (as a result of laser cutting). Luckily, using medicated, antibiotic eye drops can significantly reduce your chances of contracting an infection, and these are a standard component of your post-surgical care.
Significant undercorrection or overcorrection: Not everyone achieves 20/20 vision. In a small number of cases, the doctor may remove too much or too little of the eye tissue, resulting in an undercorrection or overcorrection of the visual state. Thankfully, in most all cases, additional surgery is enough to restore vision back to a balanced, healthy normality.
Temporary discomfort and other visual disturbances: It’s not completely uncommon to have some minor tension and pain in your eyes after your LASIK surgery. For this reason, it’s likely that your doctor will prescribe medicated eye drops to relieve the pain. It is also common to experience mild forms of light sensitivity, and so you may want to avoid direct sunlight until you feel comfortable again. Other common, non-threatening symptoms include dry eyes, hazy vision, reduced night vision, and a general lack of visual acuity. These are problems that are very likely to correct themselves over time.
Limitations to Consider
In addition to a few minor complications, there are a few limitations to consider when deciding whether or not you’re a great fit for LASIK surgery.
Although LASIK can cure nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism, it cannot correct presbyopia, which is a unique kind of farsightedness caused by a loss of general elasticity of the eye lens. This is a condition that is more common in middle aged or older adults.
Additionally, some people experience a reduction in their night vision acuity, along with a subtle glare that may appear around bright lights and other bright objects. Typically, this is not significant enough to warrant a large number of reports or desire for correction.
Last but not least, LASIK eye surgery can be expensive for the average American. It’s best that you “shop around” to find the best qualified doctor who can also offer you a competitively priced service.
LASIK eye surgery is a very safe and attractive medical procedure that can make a world of difference in both your visual acuity and visual comfort. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to consider never having to put on your eyeglasses or put in your contact lenses ever again? Waking up in the morning, and opening your eyes to clear vision is an experience to savor if you’re accustomed to having to use corrective eyewear. It’s something that you’ll have to see to believe!
Deciding whether or not to have LASIK eye surgery is a major consideration and we understand that for many it can feel like a major life undertaking. We would all love to have perfect vision, and we hope that after reading the above-written article that you feel more confident about making a definitive decision in regards to the health and optimal functioning of your eyes.