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 to freedom from optical aids, read on for the rundown on LASIK surgery.
What is LASIK?
LASIK stands for laser assisted in situ keratomileusis. LASIK surgery is just one of a few different methods of refractive surgery, all of which aim to surgically correct the refractive error of the eye in order to change the way light moves through the eye. The ultimate goal, of course, is to achieve you clear vision without constantly needing 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 or a manual tool for the first phase and a laser for the second.
After topical anaesthetic eye drops have been instilled 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 the cornea has been reshaped, the corneal flap is replaced and the eye allowed to heal with post-operative medications.
What is LASIK 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 largely dependent on the amount of corneal thickness available for reshaping. As a general rule of thumb, LASIK surgery can be used to 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, which refers to the natural age-related decline of near focus. Though 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 to see if there is another option more appropriate for your eyes. LASIK surgery is just one of a number of refractive surgery techniques, which include PRK, SMILE, and intraocular contact lenses.
If you are suitable for more than one technique, bear in mind that one of the benefits of LASIK eye surgery over another technique such as PRK is it allows a much faster recovery time and typically involves less discomfort during the healing period. Vision tends to stabilise more quickly after LASIK surgery.
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 the eye getting 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 quickly as within 24 hours. 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, but 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 1300 297 583