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Consumer Education

What is LASIK?

LASIK, which stands for Laser In-situ Keratomileusis, is one form of laser vision correction. It uses computer-controlled pulses of ultraviolet laser light to reshape the lens of the eye. The procedure has been performed more than a million times worldwide.

What types of vision disorders can be corrected using LASIK?

There are three types of vision disorders that can be surgically corrected: myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness) and astigmatism. These conditions are all refractive errors, meaning the eye doesn't properly line up the light bouncing off of what you're seeing at certain distances, leading to a blurred image.  LASIK has been approved by the FDA for treatment of these problems.

What is myopia?
Myopia is nearsightedness. It occurs when the cornea is shaped too steeply or when the eyeball is too long. This means that the light entering the eye is focusing at a point in front of the retina instead of on the retina. A myopic eye can see near objects clearly. Distant objects are seen more clearly only with the aid of glasses, contact lenses or procedures such as laser vision correction.

What is hyperopia?

Hyperopia is farsightedness. It occurs when the cornea is too flat in the middle and steeper at the edges. This means the images focus beyond the retina. In our youth, the natural focusing power of the eyes often compensates. As we age, our eyes become less able to do so. Farsightedness can be reduced or eliminated by glasses, contact lenses or procedures such as laser vision correction, by making the central part of the cornea more steeply curved.

What is astigmatism?

Astigmatism is a condition that occurs when the cornea is not perfectly round, like a basketball, but instead has two curvatures that make the shape more like a football. Light rays don't come into a single focus, so a blurred, distorted image is the result. Astigmatism can occur by itself or in combination with nearsightedness or farsightedness. It can be reduced or eliminated by laser vision correction.

How will the laser correct my vision?

During laser eye surgery, a computer controlled laser produces programmed pulses of a high energy, cold ultraviolet light beam. These pulses break the bonds between molecules and the tissue cells of the cornea. A controlled amount of tissue is vaporized away, one microscopic layer at a time, in such a pattern that the new shape of the cornea does the work previously required of your corrective lenses. The amount of tissue removed is less than the thickness of one human hair.

What are the benefits of LASIK?

LASIK is a quick and virtually painless procedure that may be able to help you see better - perhaps much, much better! If you are determined to be a good candidate for LASIK eye surgery, you may experience a number of benefits, including:

Eliminating or reducing the need for the hassle of glasses or contacts
Recognizing your kids from a distance
Being able to see when you wake up in the morning instead of having to find your glasses first
Participating in sports or outdoor activities without worrying about contacts or glasses

Are you a good candidate for LASIK?

You need to be evaluated by an eye doctor to determine if you are a good candidate. In general, the characteristics of a good candidate include:

Being at least 21 years old
Having stable vision with no recent prescription changes
Having healthy eyes
Being diagnosed as having nearsighted vision, farsighted vision or astigmatism with a refractive error that falls within the effective range of treatment

Your vision can be quite bad and you could still be a good candidate for LASIK.

You may have vision so poor that you can barely see your fingers in front of your face and still experience dramatic improvements from the procedure!


Can laser eye surgery correct any vision problem?

While recent advances in laser eye surgery make it safer and more effective for more and more people, not everyone is a candidate for laser eye surgery. Nor can 20/20 results be expected every time. It is also possible, because eyes change as we age, that a patient will need additional surgery or corrective lenses again in the future.

Will I still need reading glasses?
If you currently wear bifocals or reading glasses, you will still need them after surgery. Lasik surgery does not correct presbyopia (need for reading glasses). For patients over 40 years of age, reading glasses may be necessary after having surgery.

What happens if I choose to have LASIK?

The process starts with an initial evaluation of your vision to determine suitability for the procedure:

You will receive a regular eye exam plus pressure tests.
If you are a good candidate for LASIK, you can immediately set up an appointment for the procedure.
If you currently wear contact lenses, you will need to stop wearing them for at least three weeks prior to the consultation and one week before the surgery.

The surgery and immediate recovery period is quick and easy:

It takes just a few minutes for the laser to reshape the outer surface of the eye
You go home the same day and rest
Most procedures are done on Thursday so you can take Friday off from work and rest your eyes over the weekend, giving them time to heal
Apply antibiotic and rewetting drops as instructed

Follow-up is an important part of achieving the best results:

You will have a post-operative appointment on the following day to monitor the healing process and evaluate your vision improvements
Over the course of the next year, you will have several follow-up visits as part of a year of refractive eye care included in the cost of your procedure
If the results are less than expected, you have a year-long guarantee period during which the procedure may be repeated for no extra charge
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