LASIK Eye Surgery
LASIK is an acronym for Laser in-situ Keratomileusis and is the most commonly performed laser eye surgery today. It is a wonderful option for individuals who desire a reduction in dependence on eyeglasses or contact lenses. For both personal and professional reasons, active and social patients choose LASIK as it allows them to more freely pursue their hobbies, sports activities or career options. LASIK is generally safe and is a very successful procedure when patients take the time to educate themselves and diligently search for a skilled and qualified surgeon.
LASIK was approved in 1995 by the U.S Food and Drug Administration. Since its approval, advancements in technology have continued to increase its effectiveness and safety profile.
The LASIK Procedure (also known as laser vision correction)
The LASIK procedure is performed in several steps. In preparation for the procedure, the surgeon applies anesthetic eye drops to numb the eye. The cornea is then marked with water-soluble ink which assists with alignment of the corneal flap during latter stages of the surgery.
The first step is to create a flap in the corneal tissue. A suction ring is gently applied to the eye to keep it immobile. The corneal flap, which is a separation of layers of tissue, has traditionally been created using an instrument called a microkeratome. Since 2006, the UCLA Laser Refractive Center has used a state of the art femtosecond laser to create the corneal flap. During this step, the patient’s vision will “gray” out and he/she will feel pressure on the eye. This step takes less than 30 seconds per eye. Once the flap is created and the suction ring removed, the pressure subsides and the vision returns.
Step two in the LASIK procedure is where the change in the patient’s prescription occurs. The surgeon will lift the corneal flap (which resembles a soft contact lens) to apply the laser beam to the interior surface of the cornea to reshape the tissue. The excimer laser is computer-controlled to remove minute amounts of tissue to precisely resculpt the cornea. The excimer laser is a “cool” laser and generates its power from light in the ultraviolet range. Because it does not generate any heat, there is no damage to the surrounding tissue. This allows the surgeon to remove microscopic layers of tissue, approximately 1/10th the width of a human hair, to achieve the desired result.
Once the laser treatment is completed, the corneal flap is then replaced over the treated area. This flap serves as a natural bandage, which helps to lessen the discomfort after surgery. It also helps to expedite the healing process. Because of the extraordinary bonding properties of the corneal tissue, stitches are not needed.
Upon completion of the procedure, the patient is encouraged to go home and rest through the evening. Although some patients notice better vision immediately, most will have the most dramatic improvement occur overnight.
Although LASIK is performed commonly in the United States, it is still a surgical procedure and therefore has risks. It is important that you are well educated. During your pre-operative evaluation, be sure that you discuss those risks with your surgeon. Every patient’s eye is different and different treatment options are available to give you the best possible results. The only way to determine if LASIK (or an alternative procedure) is right for you is to have a thorough consultation and examination with an experienced eye surgeon at the UCLA Laser Refractive Center.