Eye health: LASIK laser eye surgery
Laser in-situ keratomileusis, or LASIK, is a popular type of surgery used to correct vision in people who are short-sighted, far-sighted, or have astigmatism.
All laser vision correction procedures work by reshaping the cornea, or clear front part of the eye, so that light travelling through it is properly focused onto the retina located in the back of the eye. LASIK laser eye surgery is one of a number of different surgical techniques used to reshape the cornea.
What are the advantages of LASIK laser eye surgery?
LASIK laser eye surgery has many benefits, including:
- It works and is proven to correct vision. Around 80% of patients will have their desired vision after LASIK laser eye surgery. An enhancement can further increase this number.
- LASIK laser eye surgery is associated with very little pain.
- Vision is corrected almost immediately or by the day after LASIK laser eye surgery.
- Recovery is quick and usually no bandages or stitches are required after LASIK laser eye surgery.
- Adjustments can be made years after LASIK laser eye surgery to further correct vision.
- After having LASIK laser eye surgery, most patients no longer need corrective eyewear.
What are the disadvantages of LASIK laser eye surgery?
Despite the pluses, there are some disadvantages:
- Changes made to the cornea cannot be reversed after LASIK laser eye surgery.
- Corrections can only be made by additional LASIK laser eye surgeries.
- LASIK laser eye surgery is expensive, typically costing about £1,400 per eye; though compared to the long-term cost of glasses and contact lenses, the price is reasonable.
- LASIK laser eye surgery is technically complex. Problems may occur when the doctor cuts the flap, which can permanently affect vision.
- LASIK laser eye surgery can cause a loss of "best" vision with or without glasses at one year after surgery. Your best vision is the highest degree of vision that you achieved while wearing your contacts or eyeglasses.
What are the potential side effects of LASIK laser eye surgery?
Some patients experience discomfort in the first 24 to 48 hours after surgery. Other side effects, although rare, may include:
- Seeing halos around images
- Difficulty driving at night
- Fluctuating vision
- Dry eyes
How should I prepare for LASIK laser eye surgery?
Before your LASIK laser eye surgery, you will meet with an adviser who will discuss what you should expect during and after the surgery. During this session, your medical history will be evaluated and your eyes will be tested. Likely tests include measuring corneal thickness, refraction, and pupil dilation. At any meeting with your surgeon, you should ask further questions you may have. Afterwards, you can book an appointment for the procedure.
Talk to your surgeon about specific guidelines but generally speaking, if you wear rigid gas permeable contact lenses, you should not wear them for three weeks before your surgery. Other types of contact lenses shouldn't be worn for at least three days prior to surgery. Make sure you bring your eyeglasses to the surgeon so your prescription can be reviewed.
On the day of your surgery, eat a light meal before going to the doctor, and take all of your prescribed medication. Do not wear eye makeup or have any bulky accessories in your hair that will interfere with positioning your head under the laser. If you are not feeling well that morning, call the clinic to find out whether the procedure needs to be postponed.