Although there are many different types of FDA-approved laser eye surgery procedures, LASIK—short for laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis—is by far the most well-known, and the most popular. For those suffering from nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism, LASIK can provide a dramatic and permanent improvement in vision, often eliminating or at least reducing the need for further use of eyeglasses or contacts.
Many common vision problems are the result of imperfections in the shape of the cornea, which is the transparent, dome-like front part of the eye. The cornea is designed to bend and focus incoming light so that, when the beams reach the back of the eye, the retina can send sharp, clear images back to the brain. However, if the cornea is too flat, too steep, or too irregular, the images can end up blurry. LASIK is designed to correct these imperfections by reshaping the cornea, allowing it to focus the light correctly.
The LASIK Procedure
The LASIK procedure is performed outpatient at our office in Zeeland, MI. You can expect the appointment to last 90 minutes to 2 hours, although the actual surgery portion usually only takes about 15 minutes.
We’ll start by giving you a few eye drops to numb your eyes. Once you’re ready and seated comfortably, we use a small tool to keep you from blinking during the procedure, then stabilize the eye to keep it from moving around. This may take a minute or so to adjust to, and you’ll probably feel some mild pressure—most people do not feel much discomfort.
In order to access the cornea, your surgeon will need to use a computer-controlled laser to cut a thin flap in the surface of the eye, and then temporarily fold it out of the way. Then, another computer-controlled laser is used to reshape the cornea to correct the specific vision problem you’re experiencing:
- Flattening the cornea improves distance vision for those who are nearsighted.
- Steepening the cornea improves close vision for those who are farsighted.
- Smoothing irregularities in the cornea corrects blurred vision or other defects from astigmatism.
You should not feel any pain or discomfort during this process.
Once the cornea remodeling process is complete, the surgeon will reposition the exterior flap. Don’t worry—it will stay in place on its own and should begin to heal within a couple of hours. Finally, we’ll provide one last examination and send you on your way.
Recovery and Results
One of the big advantages of LASIK over other refractive eye surgeries is that it has a much faster recovery time on average. Most people notice vision improvement within 8 hours after surgery, and it continues to improve over the following days and weeks. Typically, you can return to work or school within two days of the surgery. That said, it may take several months for your eyes to reach their maximum level of improvement.
Some temporary discomfort, such as burning, itching, excessive tear production, blurry vision, and sensitivity to light is normal and will go away in time. We generally recommend you rest your eyes as much as possible for at least a day or two following the procedure. We’ll also provide you with further instructions to aid your recovery process, and schedule a follow-up appointment to check in on your progress.
Complications such as infection, dry eyes, or visual aberrations are possible but exceedingly rare. Around 95% of patients report feeling satisfied or extremely satisfied with the results of their procedure.
Am I a Good Candidate for LASIK?
LASIK has helped tens of millions worldwide fix their nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism, improving their vision and eliminating or reducing the need for contacts or glasses. However, the procedure is not for everyone. For example:
- If you have extremely thin corneas, LASIK may not be the ideal procedure, though you may be a better candidate for other refractive surgeries.
- If the degree of refractive error is severe, your eyes may not be compatible with the LASIK procedure.
- If the prescription of your glasses or contacts has recently changed (within the last two years), it may indicate that your vision is currently too unstable to make a good LASIK candidate.
- Certain vision conditions, such as dry eye syndrome, scar tissue, or keratoconus, may disqualify you.
- Patients under 18 or who are pregnant will have to wait to get the procedure.
Furthermore, it’s important to remember that LASIK usually cannot fix vision problems other than nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism, and while vision typically improves dramatically, you may still need to wear corrective lenses after surgery—at least for certain activities. LASIK also does not fix presbyopia, which is a normal part of the aging process and results in a gradual loss of sharpness for close objects due to reduction in lens elasticity.
An Evidence-Based Approach to Eye Care
At Sight Eye Clinic, our team of board-certified ophthalmologists is passionate about helping you and your family maintain healthy eyes and the clearest possible vision through every stage of life. LASIK is just one of the many state-of-the-art, evidenced-based procedures we can offer our patients. If you’re struggling with vision problems, or you just wish you didn’t have to rely so much on your glasses or contacts, give us a call and see how we can help. Dial (616) 772-2020 to reach our Zeeland office, or complete our online contact form to request an appointment.