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LASIK (Laser in-Situ Keratomileusis) is a surgical procedure where an Excimer laser is used to remove microscopic layers of corneal tissue to change its shape and allow light rays to focus more directly on the retina.
Now in its third decade, LASIK surgery with Excimer laser frees hundreds of thousands of Americans each year from a lifetime of dependence on glasses or contacts. The technologically advanced Excimer laser, which can remove tissue with up to 0.25 microns of accuracy, has greatly enhanced the surgical control, precision and safety possible when correcting vision errors.
Because LASIK is performed under a protective layer of corneal tissue, it offers significant advantages over other types of laser vision correction. The advantages include:
- Less surface area to heal
- Less risk of scarring
- Less risk of corneal haze
- Less post-operative discomfort
- Less need for post-operative medications
- Vision returns more rapidly (often within a day or two)
- And LASIK can treat a higher range of vision errors
The Surgical Procedure
First, the ophthalmologist completely numbs your eye with an “eye drop” anesthesia. Then an eyelid holder is placed between your eyelids to keep you from blinking. After this, the doctor uses a miniature instrument, called a microkeratome, to form a protective flap in your cornea. While this is being done, you may feel a little pressure, but should not feel any discomfort. You will then be asked to look directly at a target while the ophthalmologist reshapes your cornea with the Excimer laser.
After the laser process, which usually takes less than a minute, the protective flap of the cornea is folded back into place where it bonds securely without the need for stitches.
After surgery, you should not experience any pain, but some patients report a slight discomfort, which usually disappears within twenty-four hours or less. The reshaping of the cornea varies depending upon the vision correction needed.
- With nearsightedness -- the cornea is made flatter by removing tissue surround the center.
- With farsightedness -- the center of the cornea is made steeper by removing tissue surrounding the center.
- With astigmatism -- the cornea is made more spherical by removing tissue more in one direction than another.
Who Should Have LASIK?
The ideal candidate for LASIK is someone over 18 with healthy corneas, stable refraction, and without a significant increase in their eyeglasses prescription within the last year. LASIK can correct for nearsightedness of up to –14 diopters, farsightedness up to +4 diopters, and astigmatism of up to –5 diopters. Women who are pregnant or nursing, and those who the following medical conditions may not be good candidates for LASIK:
- Uncontrolled collagen vascular diseases
- Uncontrolled autoimmune diseases
- Herpes Simplex or Zoster eye infections
After Your Lasik Surgery
-Allow yourself to rest as much as possible following your surgery. Sleeping is the best thing to do because your body will go into a healing mode when you are asleep. Do not engage in strenuous activity or heavy lifting for at least 2 days.
-Avoid exposure to bright sunlight without sunglasses.
-Use Artificial Tears as often as once every hour for the first one to two weeks, and as frequently as needed over the next several months.
-Be extremely careful not to rub your eyes for one month after surgery.
-Do not place your face under water for one week. No swimming for at least 2 weeks. You may shower with your eyes closed.
-In the event that pain pills become necessary, please take as directed.
Common Post-Operative Symptoms:
-Periods of fluctuating vision or blurry vision. This could last up to several weeks. Frequent use of artificial tears may help to alleviate these symptoms.
-Need for temporary reading magnification for the first several weeks. Using magnification will have no effect on the final outcome of the surgery.
-Blood (subconjunctival hemorrhages) or red blotchy areas on the white part of the eyes. These are harmless parts of the healing process. They do not interfere with your vision or surgical outcome, and will slowly dissipate in several days.
-Some patients who experience severe dry eyes may require the insertion of a silicone plug into the punctum, the entrance to the tear drainage system of the eye. This will prevent normal tear drainage and therefore help to keep the eye moist.
About Our Lasers
Not all eyes are created equal, and in spite of what some eye centers would have you believe, different lasers give different results depending on your eyes. That's why at the Chattanooga Eye Institute, we offer LASIK laser vision correction using either the new Allegreto laser or the widely respected Visx CustomVue laser. Both are available right in our office.