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Lasik

Introduction

LASIK (laser in-situ keratomileusis) is a widely used refractive eye surgery to correct nearsightedness, farsightedness, presbyopia (loss of ability to focus on nearby objects), and astigmatism (improper curvature of the eye’s surface). The surgery works by remolding the cornea (transparent dome-shaped front part of the eye), allowing proper focusing of the light that passes through the cornea onto the retina (light-sensitive membrane at the back of the eye).

Preparation

To prepare for LASIK you will have to

  • Stop wearing contact lenses and switch over to glasses at least a few weeks before the procedure
  • Avoid using eye makeup the day before and day after surgery
  • Maintain good hygiene of the eyelashes to reduce infection

Your doctor will review your medical history and conduct a detailed eye examination to measure your cornea, making a note of the shape and any irregularities. This helps the surgeon determine the exact regions that need reshaping. The wavefront-guided technology uses a scanner to generate a detailed chart of the eye’s topography.

Procedure

You will seated in a reclining chair, and given medicines to relax you. Eye drops will be placed to numb your eyes. Your doctor will use a special instrument to keep your eyes open during the procedure. You will be asked to focus on a source of light in order to keep your eye fixed during the procedure. Your surgeon will use a specialised laser to create a flap on the surface of the cornea. The flap will then be peeled back and the underlying corneal tissue will be remolded. Once the cornea is reshaped appropriately so that it properly focuses light onto the retina, your surgery will be completed by folding the cornea flap back into place, where it will heal normally without the need for stitches. The entire procedure takes 30 minutes or less.

Post-operative Care

Following the surgery, you can expect some irritation as your eyes will be dry. You will be given medicines and eye drops to keep your eyes moist and to prevent pain and infection. Your doctor may advise you to use a clear shield at night until it heals. You may have problems with vision for the first day after the procedure, but healing occurs fairly rapidly and you may experience improved vision in a few days.

You will need to follow up with your eye doctor in one or two days, and keep regular follow up appointments periodically during the first six months. During your recovery period, you will have to avoid strenuous activities, contact sports, and swimming for a few weeks.

Risks

As with any surgery, LASIK carries its own set of risks which include:

  • Undercorrection: You will not experience clear vision if the procedure removes too little tissue from your eyes. Undercorrection can be corrected by performing a second refractive surgery within a year.
  • Overcorrection: Overcorrection can be more difficult to rectify than undercorrection, as more than the required amount of tissue is removed.
  • Astigmatism: Uneven tissue removal can alter the shape of the cornea, and may require additional surgery.
  • Dry eyes – This is the most common side effect after LASIK surgery. In most cases it is treatable with simple lubricating eye drops. Sometimes it is necessary to decrease the drainage of tears and this is a simple procedure. Occasionally the dry eye can be experienced for years after the surgery

  • Vision abnormalities: You may experience glares, halo, or double vision temporarily for some days after LASIK. You may require additional surgery if they worsen.

Conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, immunodeficiency, pregnancy, persistent dry eyes, unstable vision, and abnormal shape of the cornea can increase the risks associated with LASIK. Your doctor will be able to address all your concerns before you consider LASIK.

Advantages

LASIK is preferred over other methods due to the following benefits:

  • It has been proven to correct vision in about 90% of the patients
  • Your vision may be corrected almost immediately
  • You will have less pain
  • You won’t require adhesive dressings (no stitches or bandages)
  • Your dependence on eyeglasses and contact lenses may be reduced. Some patients no longer require assistive devices after LASIK.

Summary

LASIK is a very popular surgery with a high rate of success. Most patients benefit with improved vision and are able to do away with glasses and contact lenses. The results may vary from patient to patient and your result will depend on your specific situation and overall health.

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