Lasik Eye Surgery

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What it is...

LASIK is one of several ways to correct your vision with surgery. commonly referred to as laser eye surgery, is a type of refractive surgery for the correction of myopia, hyperopia, and astigmatism. The LASIK surgery is performed by an opthamologist who uses a laser or microkeratome to reshape the eye's cornea in order to improve visual acuity. For most patients, LASIK provides a permanent alternative to eye glasses or contact lenses. Major side effects include halos, starbursts, night-driving problems, keratoconus (corneal ectasia), and eye dryness.

Procedure

The procedure involves creating a thin flap on the eye, folding it to enable remodeling of the tissue beneath with a laser and repositioning the flap.


  • Flap creation

A soft corneal suction ring is applied to the eye, holding the eye in place. This step in the procedure can sometimes cause small blood vessels to burst, resulting in bleeding or subconjunctival hemorrhage into the white (sclera) of the eye, a harmless side effect that resolves within several weeks. Increased suction causes a transient dimming of vision in the treated eye. Once the eye is immobilized, the flap is created. This process is achieved with a mechanical microkeratome using a metal blade, or a femtosecond laser that creates a series of tiny closely arranged bubbles within the cornea. A hinge is left at one end of this flap. The flap is folded back, revealing the stroma, the middle section of the cornea. The process of lifting and folding back the flap can sometimes be uncomfortable.

  • Laser remodelling

The second step of the procedure uses an excimer laser (193 nm) to remodel the corneal stroma. The laser vaporizes the tissue in a finely controlled manner without damaging the adjacent stroma. No burning with heat or actual cutting is required to ablate the tissue. The layers of tissue removed are tens of micrometres thick. Performing the laser ablation in the deeper corneal stroma provides for more rapid visual recovery and less pain than the earlier technique, photorefractive keratectomy (PRK). During the second step, the patient's vision becomes blurry, once the flap is lifted. They will be able to see only white light surrounding the orange light of the laser, which can lead to mild disorientation. The excimer laser uses an eye tracking system that follows the patient's eye position up to 4,000 times per second, redirecting laser pulses for precise placement within the treatment zone. Typical pulses are around 1 millijoule (mJ) of pulse energy in 10 to 20 nanoseconds.

  • Repositioning of the flap

After the laser has reshaped the stromal layer, the LASIK flap is carefully repositioned over the treatment area by the surgeon and checked for the presence of air bubbles, debris, and proper fit on the eye. The flap remains in position by natural adhesion until healing is completed.

  • Postoperative care

Patients are usually given a course of antibiotic and anti-inflammatory eye drops. These are continued in the weeks following surgery. Patients are told to rest and are given a darkened pair of shields to protect their eyes from bright lights and protective goggles to prevent rubbing of the eyes when asleep and to reduce dry eyes. They also are required to moisturize the eyes with preservative-free tears and follow directions for prescription drops. Patients should be adequately informed by their surgeons of the importance of proper post-operative care to minimize the risk of complications.

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