Refractive surgery provides an alternative treatment option for individuals with nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism. LASIK is one of the most popular surgeries in the United States, and is a proven treatment option. If you are considering refractive surgery, we understand that you probably have many questions. We invite you to learn more about this procedure by reading below and then to schedule a consultation with Gordon Wong Eye Designs & Optometry today. Our entire team is dedicated to providing superior patient care and would be happy to work with you.
What to Expect during the Procedure
LASIK stands for laser-assisted In Situ (Latin for “in position”) keratomileusis (surgical revision of refractive errors on the cornea). The procedure has been performed successfully since 1990, and nearly one-million patients in the United States undergo LASIK eye surgery every year. The treatment works by reshaping the cornea through the removal of the tissue responsible for improper light refraction onto the retina. Light received by the retina is sent to the brain, where it is interpreted as a picture. If the light is improperly focused onto the retina by the natural ocular lens, it can result in vision that is blurred, either at near distances (hyperopia), far distances (myopia), or overall (astigmatism). By reshaping the cornea, laser eye surgery allows ophthalmologists to improve light refraction, and in turn, vision.
After an eye exam determines the scope of the patient’s vision impairment and a treatment option is finalized, the surgery will begin with the creation of a small corneal flap. This can be done with either a precise surgical blade known as a microkeratome or an IntraLase® laser. Though a laser provides for greater precision and less chance of flap complications, it also comes at a greater cost and may not be for everyone. Once the flap has been created and opened, exposing the inner corneal tissue known as the stroma, the heart of the procedure can take place. With an excimer laser, minor imperfections on the cornea are precisely ablated, or removed, through pulsed energy bursts. This process helps refine the shape of the cornea so that light refraction can be improved. This process takes mere minutes, and once complete, improved results are noticeable almost immediately. When complete, the flap is placed in its original position and left to heal on its own – no stitches or sutures of any kind are used in the healing process for LASIK eye surgery. The procedure is painless, thanks to the use of a minor anesthetic.
Results and Recovery
It may take up to a year for permanent results to be evident, but improved vision is typically noticeable immediately following surgery. Many patients who are unable to read a wall clock without their glasses are able to do so after the LASIK procedure is complete. Nonetheless, to ensure proper healing and the best chance for success, patients will typically be asked to rest for a couple of days following surgery, and will be prescribed pain medications to aid in any discomfort that may result from the procedure. Patients will also be provided with eye patches after surgery that should be worn for one to two days to aid in the healing process. If you opt to undergo LASIK eye surgery at our San Diego practice, you can rest assured that our care extends beyond the procedure itself, and we will be with you during every step of the recovery process.
Permanent results of LASIK eye surgery can be nothing short of astounding. Individuals who have worn eyeglasses and contact lenses their entire lives are often shocked by the quality of their new vision. Success is typically measured in the achievement of 20/20 vision; with techniques that employ the latest in laser eye surgery technology, such as iLASIK™, success rates as high as 90 percent are common. In some patients, 20/15 and even 20/10 vision is possible. It should be noted however that not everyone will have perfect vision following LASIK eye surgery. That being said, the American Association of Professional Eyecare Specialists concluded that unassisted 20/40 vision, which for most LASIK patients is a drastic improvement over their natural vision, is achieved in 92.6 percent of all patients.
Risk and Benefits
The benefits of laser vision correction are self-evident: improved vision and a reduced dependency on eyeglasses and corrective lenses. Social, recreational, and employment opportunities that may previously have been unavailable to you become open, and your quality of life can be dramatically improved. Who’s to say what impact seeing your grandchildren in complete clarity or gazing upon the night stars in crystalline-clear fashion will have on you? There is really no way to appreciate perfect vision until you have perfect vision, and with LASIK eye surgery, just such a thing is possible.
Though safe and effective, and performed on millions of patients a year, LASIK is a surgical procedure and is not without risk. Possible complications include overcorrection and undercorrection (both of which can typically be alleviated through additional treatment), flap wrinkles, infection, irregular bumps or “islands” on the central cornea (a symptom which typically heals itself over time), a trapping of foreign items beneath the corneal flap, and epithelial ingrowths, or cell growth on the corneal tissue. These risks occur in less than one percent of patients; the chance of complications occurring can be greatly mitigated through experience, care, and the latest advancements in laser vision technology.