LASIK (laser assisted in-situ keratomileusis) was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1999. It is a laser vision correction procedure that can reduce or eliminate dependence on glasses and contact lenses for most patients. LASIK corrects nearsightedness (myopia), farsightedness (hyperopia), and astigmatism by reshaping the cornea. Technological advances have led to the development of bladeless LASIK and custom LASIK, but traditional LASIK is still widely performed, safe and effective. For some patients, traditional LASIK is the best option.
Traditional LASIK Procedure
In traditional LASIK, an oscillating blade, called a microkeratome, is used to cut a small flap in the surface of the cornea. A small amount of suction is used to lift the flap, providing access for the excimer laser to make tiny adjustments to the cornea, correcting refractive error.
The flap is closed, and heals on its own. There are no stitches.
You are awake during the procedure. General anesthesia is not necessary. Numbing eye drops are used to keep you comfortable. The entire surgery take about five to 15 minutes per eye.
LASIK is an out-patient procedure. You will go home shortly after your procedure is complete. Even though you will not be sedated, you will need someone to drive you home, and you should rest for the rest of the day.
Your LASIK surgeon will give you eye drops to prevent infection and to keep your eyes moist and comfortable.
Following your LASIK surgeon’s post-operative instructions to the letter is key to avoiding LASIK complications. Using your drops as directed and avoiding rubbing or bumping your eye while the flap is healing are two of the most important aftercare points to keep in mind.
Immediate Improvement in Vision
Improvement in your vision will be noticeable immediately after surgery. However, it can take a few days for your vision to stabilize, so you may have difficulty reading. Most patients continue to see improvement in their vision over the course of a few days to a few weeks.
It can take several months for your eyes to fully heal and to know what the full results will be. Whether 20/20 vision will be possible for you depends on your visual acuity going into the surgery. Most LASIK patients achieve 20/40 vision or better.
After your eyes have had time to fully heal, your LASIK surgeon can perform an enhancement or touch-up procedure if needed.