Laser eye surgery, often known by the acronym LASIK, which stands for Laser-Assisted In Situ Keratomileusis, is a very common and effective type of permanent vision correction. A specialist surgeon known as an Ophthalmologist uses a laser to reshape the cornea, or focusing part of the front of the eye, to correct several common vision issues such as myopia or hyperopia.
While there are some pre-existing conditions of health and vision that must be met before laser eye surgery can be considered, it is a viable vision correction option for the vast majority of patients.
Before a LASIK procedure, pre-operative consultations and eye exams are conducted to determine the exact correction that needs to occur to the eye. If a patient wears contact lenses, it is usually at this point that they are instructed to stop wearing them in favour of glasses, as the eye absorbs oxygen during the healing process after surgery, and while some contact lenses are gas permeable, having the eye “breathe” normally before any surgical procedure can help speed recovery.
During the actual laser eye surgery procedure, the patient is usually fully conscious with only local anaesthetic on the eye being treated itself. A small flap is created with a laser, opening the front of the cornea. Then, an extraordinarily precise laser is used to reshape the lens of the eye itself. The flap is then closed and the eye is left to heal normally. Full recovery usually occurs within a week.
Post Operative Care
After surgery, there are at least three eye exams. The first, within 24 hours of the surgery, is to confirm the flap is healing and that there are no complications within the eye or cornea. The second occurs after approximately a week, to confirm the flap has fully healed, as well as determine the effectiveness of the vision correction performed and that there are no long term complications.
The last exam is after approximately one month, at which point the eye should be fully healed and the effectiveness of vision correction is tested, usually with marked improvement up to and sometimes better than 20/20 vision.
During the post operative period, it is not uncommon for antibacterial and anti-inflammatory eye drops to be issued, which should be used as directed to help prevent infection in the eye. Patients are instructed to rest as much as possible, and are given dark glasses to help protect their eyes from bright lights. Protective goggles can sometimes be prescribed as well, to prevent rubbing of the eyes when asleep, and to keep the eyes moist in dry environments.