Repairing the Eye with LASIK Surgery
There is a good reason for the huge popularity of laser eye surgery over the past decade. After all, there has never been a vision correction procedure that could aid patients’ vision so quickly and offer such prompt recovery time. For many, laser eye surgery can correct their vision to an extent where they no longer need glasses or contact lenses. It works by reshaping the cornea, which is the clear front part of the eye, thus changing its focusing power.
LASIK – Laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis – is one of the most common types of laser eye surgery.
Since the downsides of the surgery are less widely advertised, this article offers information on the option of repairing your eyesight using LASIK surgery, which may help you discuss the pros and cons with your doctor.
What is LASIK Surgery?
How does our eye work: For clear vision, the cornea and lens of the eye must be able to bend (refract) light rays properly before it reaches the retina, so that images can clearly be focused on the retina. If they are not focused properly, images will be blurry. This blurriness is called “refractive error.” This is caused by the difference between the shape of the cornea (curvature) and the length of the eye, which means that the shape of the eye does not bend light properly.
LASIK surgery is a procedure that is aimed at correcting such vision problems, reducing or eliminating the need for corrective lenses or glasses for the eyes. It has become the most common type of refractive surgery.
Source : af.mil
Refractive surgery works by changing the shape of your cornea – the transparent dome-shaped tissue at the front of your eye. It uses an excimer laser (an ultraviolet laser) to remove corneal tissue and giving it a new shape so that light rays are clearly focused on the retina rather than at some point short or beyond your retina. LASIK makes the cornea thinner.
Goal of LASIK: To produce sharper, clearer vision.
But like any medical procedure, even this comes with both benefits and risks.
Source : wikimedia
Is LASIK Surgery an Option for You?
The only person who can tell you if you are a candidate for LASIK surgery is your doctor.
But it helps to know that it may be an option for you, if you have one of these problems:
- Presbyopia – Age-related eye changes that result in gradual loss of ability of the eye to actively change focus on nearby objects.
You will feel the need to hold books or newspapers at arm’s length to be able to focus properly. Performing work where close focus is required, like writing, embroidery or using the computer, may lead to eye strain, fatigue or headaches.
- Astigmatism – This problem arises when the cornea flattens or curves unevenly, resulting in disruption of focus of near and distant vision. When light rays enter the eye, they do not focus properly on the retina, leading to a blurred image. There are two types of astigmatism – corneal astigmatism and lenticular astigmatism where the problem exists in the lens and not in the cornea.
You will find your vision is blurred or distorted at all distances. There may be sensitivity to light, headaches, excessive squinting, and eye strain which occurs when the eye has to focus for a long time, such as when reading a news paper or working on a computer.
- Myopia (Nearsightedness) – Your distant vision gets blurred because light rays focus in front of the retina, and this happens when the cornea curves too sharply or your eyeball is slightly longer than normal.
Here, you will be able to see objects that are close more clearly, but not those that are far away. Eyestrain is common while headaches are not so common.
- Hyperopia (Farsightedness) – When your cornea is too flat or your eyeball is shorter than average, light focuses behind the retina and not on the retina itself. This blurs near vision and sometimes distant vision as well.
You will experience aching eyes, blurred vision usually of close objects, eye strain and headaches while reading. Strabismus (crossed eyes) may be a symptom in children.
When is LASIK Surgery Not for You?
LASIK eye surgery may not be for you, if you belong to these categories.
Note: Before you turn to LASIK eye surgery or some other refractive procedure, your doctor may recommend other ways of correcting your vision – such as wearing contact lenses or using glasses.
Benefits of LASIK Surgery
The benefits of a LASIK surgery depend on several factors, including the age of the patient, health and the degree of refractive error.
- There is very little pain associated with the surgery itself.
- For many, vision is corrected almost immediately or a day after the surgery.
- It corrects vision in a majority of people. Studies show that many patients who undergo LASIK surgery obtain 20/20 vision or better, and a majority of patients achieve 20/40 or better – which is fully functional and is considered good enough to drive legally in most places without using contact lenses or glasses. Overall, it has been seen that a majority of people have stable and lasting vision improvement. But don’t take this as a norm, as some of you may experience just a slight difference in vision.
- Many people no longer need contact lenses or glasses after LASIK.
- Recovery is quick, and in most cases stitches or bandages are not required.
The technology used and the experience of the surgeon can make all the difference to the results achieved from the procedure.
What are the LASIK Surgery Side Effects?
Source : flickr
If you’re tired of wearing glasses or contacts, LASIK surgery may seem a wonderful solution, but as with any other surgery, this is not devoid of side effects and risks. You have to be extra careful because it involves your eyes.
Consumer Reports National Research Center reveals that more than half of Americans who have LASIK or some other laser vision-correction surgery still have to wear glasses at least sometimes.
Risks of LASIK surgery may include
- Infection of the cornea
- Scarring of the cornea
- Permanent problems with the shape of the cornea, making it impossible to wear contact lenses
- Contrast sensitivity reduction – which means objects appear fuzzy or gray even with 20/20 vision
- Glare or haloes
- Dry eyes
- Problem with night driving
- Light sensitivity
- Red or pink patches in the white of the eye, although these are usually temporary
- Reduced vision
- Permanent vision loss
Most people will find their vision stabilizing within a few days after LASIK surgery, but for some it may take as long as 3-6 months. Some may need to continue wearing contact lenses or glasses even after the surgery, while others may even need to undergo a second eye surgery, called “retreatments,” to achieve the best possible vision. Symptoms such as glares and haloes, and problem with night driving are common problems people face after the LASIK surgery. But these problems are said to go away within 6 months in most people; although the problem with glare may continue to haunt a small percentage of patients.
The Role of Your Doctor
Source : af.mil
If you think LASIK surgery can be an option for you, the first thing to do is discuss about it with your doctor.
- Your doctor will perform a complete eye exam and decide if you are a good candidate for the surgery.
- Everything from the risks, benefits and alternatives of the surgery should be discussed with the doctor.
- Find out what you should expect before, during and after surgery.
- Let your doctor know everything related to your eye, including any past or present conditions.
- Inform your doctor of all the medications you are taking and medications you may be allergic to.
Since LASIK surgery is performed on a delicate part of the eye and there is no reversing it, the expertise of the surgeon in performing LASIK eye surgery can be one of the most important factors you should look into. After all, you’re trusting them with your vision!
Experts reveal that out of the hundreds of thousands of people who have had LASIK, many have experienced success. The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) reports that 9 out of 10 patients achieve 20/20 vision. But you must understand that 20/20 does not always mean perfect clear vision. If after discussing with your doctor, you decide to go ahead with the surgery, check with your insurance company, as many insurance plans do not cover this as the surgery is elective. The cost of surgery, even after any discounts offered, may be around $3,000.