LASIK Eye Surgery – What to expect?

LASIK eye surgery was first approved for application in the mid-90s. Since then, LASIK surgery has been performed tens of millions of times around the world, surgically correcting refractive error and reducing the need for glasses and contact lenses.
While the thought of eye surgery may make some feel squeamish, the success rates of LASIK eye surgery are excellent (sitting close to 100%). If you’ve ever considered taking the next step toward freedom from optical aids, continue reading for the rundown on LASIK.

What is LASIK surgery?

LASIK stands for laser-assisted in situ keratomileuses. LASIK eye surgery is one of a few different methods of refractive surgery. They all aim to surgically correct the refractive error of the eye by changing the way light moves through the eye. The ultimate goal is to achieve clear vision without much need for glasses or contacts.
In short, LASIK eye surgery works by reshaping the front surface of the eye, known as the cornea, in such a way that light bends, or refracts, to focus at a sharp point on the retina at the back of the eye. LASIK surgery is a two-step procedure and may involve a laser for both steps. Sometimes, a manual tool is used for the first phase and a laser for the second.
After instilling topical anaesthetic eye drops for comfort, the first step involves the removal of a thin superficial flap of corneal tissue.
The purpose of this is to give access for the laser in the second step to sculpt the deeper layers of the cornea. The amount and location of corneal tissue to be removed is calculated by a specific algorithm and controlled by the computer.
After reshaping the cornea, the corneal flap is replaced and the eye is allowed to heal with post-operative medications.

What is LASIK surgery used for?

Refractive error refers to a mismatch of the eye’s focusing power and its length. This results in light falling either in front of the retina (myopia or short-sightedness), behind (hyperopia or long-sightedness) or on two different points (astigmatism).
LASIK eye surgery can be applied to all these refractive errors up to certain limitations. These limitations will vary from eye to eye and is dependent on the amount of corneal thickness available for reshaping. As a general rule of thumb, LASIK surgery can correct prescriptions of:
  • Myopia between -1.00 to -10.00 dioptres
  • Hyperopia up to +4.00 dioptres
  • Astigmatism up to -4.00 dioptres
Patients past their mid-40s will typically experience another type of vision problem called presbyopia. This refers to the natural age-related decline of near focus. Not all presbyopic patients are suitable candidates. LASIK eye surgery may still be useful in some cases to provide monovision (one eye corrected for distance and the other for near), or laser blended vision.
There will be some patients who fall outside the eligibility criteria for LASIK eye surgery. Before giving up on the dream of a glasses-free life altogether, speak to an optometrist or ophthalmologist familiar with refractive and LASIK surgery. There might be other options more appropriate for your eyes. LASIK is one of many refractive surgery techniques. Including PRK, SMILE, and intraocular contact lenses.
If you are suitable for more than one technique, bear in mind that there are many benefits of LASIK eye surgery. These include:
  • A much faster recovery time compared to other techniques such as PRK
  • Less discomfort during the healing period
  • Quicker vision stabilisation

What to expect after LASIK surgery

As with any surgical procedure, there are some post-operation rules to follow. This will include a period of using medicated eye drops and also avoiding getting the eye wet or rubbing it, which will involve wearing a protective eye shield.
You may experience some dryness and irritation of the eye as it heals, but you should notice a significant improvement to your vision as soon as 24 hours later. Many people return to work the next day after surgery. As with any surgical procedure, there is a small risk of complications such as infection. The rates of this occurring in Australia are extremely low.
If you’re considering LASIK eye surgery, speak to the team at Eye Laser Specialists and organise your complimentary first consultation. Call us today for free 0390 700 910

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About the expert

Dr Anton van Heerden, MBCHB; FRANZCO
Ophthalmologist & Laser Eye Surgeon

Based in Melbourne, but with a reputation that transcends borders, Dr Van Heerden sets the highest bar for laser vision correction surgery in Australia. While his skills and experience are second to none, it is his fun, caring and down to earth nature that truly set’s him apart from the rest. You can sit back and enjoy the journey knowing every detail has been carefully considered.