There are many types of laser eye surgery available. LASIK laser eye surgery, being one of the most popular, is a type of refractive surgery that corrects common sight problems like near-sightedness, far-sightedness, astigmatism and presbyopia. On successful completion, the procedure will improve your sight and get rid of any reliance on glasses or lenses to see clearly.
Similar to many other types of laser eye surgery, LASIK works by reshaping the cornea to focus light entering the eye on to the retina. This achieves the desired outcome and gives you clearer vision.
How LASIK surgery is carried out
- The procedure is carried out using two lasers, one to open up a thin flap in the surface of the cornea, and another to reshape the cornea underneath.
- Firstly, a circular thin flap is opened on the surface of the cornea using a mechanical tool called a microkeratome or a femtosecond laser
- The surgeon then opens the flaps to access the cornea, below the flap
- A cool beam of ultraviolet light is used to reshape the cornea to focus light on the retina
- The shape of the cornea depends on correction that needs to be achieved. For example, for near sighted people the cornea will need to be flattened.
- Once the procedure is complete the flap is placed back down, allowing the cornea to heal naturally.
Before having LASIK surgery
Before having LASIK eye surgery, you will need to be assessed by your eye doctor to make sure you qualify for the treatment. An eye exam will be carried out to check the shape and thickness of your cornea, pupil size, whether there are any refractive errors like myopia, hyperopia and astigmatism, plus any other eye conditions.
To reduce the risk of developing dry eyes after LASIK, you may be advised to take some precautionary treatments. An evaluation on the moisture of your eyes maybe conducted before any treatment is recommended.
If you are a regular user of contact lenses, you may be asked to stop wearing them for a few weeks before your eye exam because contact lenses can change the shape of the cornea.
Previous health history will also be taken into consideration before your suitability for LASIK surgery is determined.
After your LASIK surgery and recovery
After LASIK surgery you may find your eyes are temporarily more sensitive to light and experience a slight burning sensation or feel itchy. A brief eye test will be carried out immediately after the surgery and you’ll be given some time to rest before being discharged. You wont be allowed to drive after surgery so arrangements will need to be made for someone to drive you.
Vision will still be hazy for a little while after the procedure but should improve the following day. Things should continue to improve over the coming days and weeks. For some people the improvements are immediate, but it can vary from person to person.
It’s vital in the early stages of recovery to allow your eyes to rest and stabilise. Try not to do any strenuous activity which may strain the eyes and effect the healing process. You may be fit enough to go back to work shortly after surgery but many doctors would recommend taking some time off to help with recovery.
Make sure all follow up appointments are attended so your doctor can keep track of your progress. Follow doctor’s instructions and avoid touching or rubbing your eyes until they’re fully healed. Otherwise, you could risk dislodging the flap covering the cornea.
Long term results of LASIK surgery
The aim of LASIK eye surgery is to achieve 20/20 vision. However, the results of the procedure can vary from person to person with some people achieving 20/40 or less. This could mean some people still need to wear glasses after surgery, but it should still be an improvement on before.
It’s possible to have additional treatment to improve the results of the first procedure, if desired outcome wasn’t achieved first time around.
As part of the aging process it is normal for near sighted vision to deteriorate . So even with laser eye surgery, once you reach your 40’s, you may still need reading glasses.
LASIK eye surgery risks
Millions of people around the world have LASIK eye surgery to improve their vision. Despite the high level of success there are still some common risks and side effects associated with LASIK surgery.
- Temporary discomfort like mild irritation and light sensitivity
- Visual disturbance like glare, haziness, lack of sharpness (usually temporary)
- Flap complication that can distort vision
- Dry eyes. Can be treated with eye drop and usually disappears once fully healed
- Under or over correction resulting in less than optimal sight correction
- Eye infection. Very rare after LASIK, but if this occurs it is important to use medication as prescribed by your doctor.
Before your procedure, your doctor will discuss potential risks and complications with you in more detail. This will help prepare you for all scenarios and set some expectations.
Things to consider before LASIK eye surgery
Deciding to have LASIK surgery requires a lot of careful thought and consideration. You need to really understand the reasons for choosing the procedure you want and set realistic expectations of the outcome.
Sometimes it may seem like an easy decision to take because the positives outweigh the negatives. However, it’s always important to make sure everything has been considered and you’re ready move on.
Here are some things you should think about:
- How long is the recovery time for your treatment?
- How long do you need to take off work?
- When will you start to see the results you expect?
- When will you fully recover and resume your usual activity?
- Are the results of the surgery permanent?
- What do you need to do to maintain the results of the procedure?
- If you have children, do you need childcare during recovery?
Start your search
You may or may not be ready for laser eye surgery, but it’s never too soon to reach out to a clinic or hospital, or a doctor, to start a conversation. A major part of your research into the procedure you’re looking for should include direct communication, and a consultation, with an expert. Feel free to contact multiple care providers and experts. The more information you can gather about your procedure and surgeon the better decision you’re likely to make.