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LASIK eye surgery
Alternative namesLaser-Assisted In Situ Keratomileusis; Laser vision correction
DefinitionLASIK is a surgical procedure that can reduce a person's dependency on glasses or contact lenses by permanently changing the shape of the cornea (the delicate clear covering on the front of the eye). For clear vision, the eye's cornea and lens must bend (refract) light rays properly, so that images are focused on the retina . If the light rays aren't clearly focused on the retina, the images you see are blurry.
This blurriness is referred to as a "refractive error." It is caused by an imperfectly shaped eyeball, cornea, or lens. LASIK uses an Excimer Laser (an ultraviolet laser) to precisely remove corneal tissue to correct the shape for better focusing.LASIK eye surgery is performed most often on people who have myopia (nearsightedness), which means that they only clearly see nearby objects; anything far away is blurry.
A complete eye examination will be done before surgery to make sure your eyes are healthy. Once this is determined, the doctor will measure the curve of the cornea and the size and position of the pupils, the shape of the eyes (making sure there are no irregularities that would prevent LASIK as an option), and the thickness of the cornea (making sure there will be enough tissue left, once the cornea is cut and reshaped).
A signed informed consent form is needed before the procedure, confirming knowledge of the risks, benefits, alternative options, and possible complications.
LASIK is an outpatient surgical procedure and will take 10 to 15 minutes for each eye.
The only anesthetic used is an eye drop that numbs the surface of the eye. The procedure is done with the person awake. LASIK may be done on one or both eyes during the same session.
During LASIK, a special knife (a microkeratome) is used to cut a hinged flap of corneal tissue off the outer layer of the eyeball. The flap is lifted out of the way and the laser is used to reshape the underlying corneal tissue.
The calculation for how much tissue is removed by the laser is done ahead of time. Once the reshaping is done, the surgeon replaces and secures the flap. No stitches are needed. An eye shield or patch will be placed over the eye to protect the flap and to help prevent rubbing or pressure on the eye until it has had enough time to heal.
LASIK is done most often on people who use glasses or contact lenses because of myopia (nearsightedness). It is occasionally used to correct farsightedness. It may also correct astigmatism.
The FDA has approved the Excimer Laser to correct nearsightedness up to -12.00D with -4.00D of astigmatism, and farsightedness from +1.00 to +6.00 with 1.00D of astigmatism. (Diopter, symbol D, is the measurement of the refractive error. A negative D value indicates nearsightedness and a positive D value indicates farsightedness.)
The FDA, in cooperation with the American Academy of Ophthalmology, has developed the following guidelines and recommendations for good candidates for LASIK:
Expectations after surgery
Immediately following the surgery, there may be a sense of burning, itching, or a feeling that something is in the eye. There may be mild discomfort for which the doctor may prescribe a mild pain reliever medication. It is very important NOT to rub the eye after LASIK, so that the flap does not dislodge or move.
The day of surgery, vision generally is blurry or hazy but by the next day the blurriness improves. The doctor should be called immediately if there is severe pain or any of the symptoms worsen BEFORE your scheduled follow-up appointment (24-48 hours after surgery).
At the first doctor visit after the surgery, the eye shield will be removed and the doctor will examine your eye and test your vision. You may receive eye drops to help prevent infection. Do not drive until your vision has improved enough to safely do so.
Other things to avoid include swimming, hot tubs, whirlpools, contact sports, lotions, cremes, and eye make-up for between 2-4 weeks after surgery. The doctor will give you specific instructions.
Update Date: 10/27/2003Raymond S. Douglas, M.D., Ph.D., Department of Ophthalmology, UCLA Medical Center, Los Angeles, CA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.
Last updated: Tue, 06 Jan 2009 00:20:03 GMT