14835 Health Library | Health and Wellness | Wellmont Health System
  • LASIK

    (Laser-Assisted In Situ Keratomileusis)

    Click here to view an animated version of this procedure.

    Definition

    LASIK is a surgery that uses a laser to reshape the cornea of the eye. This reshaping changes focusing power and usually corrects vision. Surgery may be done on both eyes, either at the same time or on separate occasions.
    Cornea of the Eye
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    Reasons for Procedure

    LASIK is done to eliminate the need for glasses or contact lenses.
    Most people who get LASIK will still need reading glasses at middle age and beyond to correct for presbyopia (decreased ability to focus due to age). Be sure to discuss presbyopia with your doctor prior to getting LASIK so that you understand how it will affect your vision.

    Possible Complications

    LASIK eye surgery has a relatively low complication rate, but they can occur. Possible complications include, but are not limited to:
    • Under- or over-correction of the cornea shape
    • Infection
    • Scarring
    • Fuzzy or blurry vision
    • Poor night vision
    • Seeing halos or sunbursts around light/glare
    • Long-term dryness, scratchiness, or pain in eyes
    • Correction may not last
    • Permanent decrease or loss of vision that cannot be corrected with glasses or contact lenses
    • Need for additional laser or surgery
    Some factors that may increase the risk of complications include:
    • Pre-existing eye disease (such as glaucoma ) or abnormalities in the shape of the cornea (such as keratoconus)
    • Persistent eye infections (such as blepharitis )
    • Dry eyes
    • Thin cornea
    • Large pupil size
    • Autoimmune disease, immunodeficiency, and other conditions, or use of medicines that alter wound healing
    • Diabetes
    • Any other form of fluctuating vision

    What to Expect

    Prior to Procedure

    Your doctor will likely do the following:
    • Complete eye exam
    • Review of medicines
    Leading up to your procedure:
    • It is best to stop wearing your contact lenses at least 2-4 weeks before surgery. The length of time depends on the type of contact lenses and your doctor’s preference.
    • Arrange for a ride to and from the procedure.
    • Do not wear lotion, cream, make-up, or perfume the day before or day of surgery.
    • You may be asked to scrub your eyelashes and/or use eye drops before the surgery.
    Talk to your doctor about your medicines. You may be asked to stop taking some medicines up to one week before the procedure, like:
    • Aspirin or other anti-inflammatory drugs
    • Blood thinners, such as clopidogrel (Plavix) or warfarin (Coumadin)

    Anesthesia

    Drops are given to numb the surface of the eye. You may be given a sedative to help you relax during the procedure.

    Description of Procedure

    You will be positioned on your back in a reclining chair. The area surrounding your eye will be cleaned. Numbing drops will be placed in your eye. The eyelid will be held open with a special device. A ring will be placed on the eye and pressure is applied to create suction. A blade will then be attached to the suction ring. The doctor will use the blade to cut a flap in the cornea. The doctor will fold back the flap.
    You will look into a light (not the laser). A laser will be directed to remove a specific amount of corneal tissue. The laser will make a ticking sound as it reshapes the cornea. At this point, some patients report a smell similar to burning hair. Once the laser is finished, the corneal flap will be gently placed back into position. Antibiotic drops will be put in the eye. A shield will be placed over the eye.
    There are other ways to do laser vision correction surgery. One includes using a laser to make the flap in the cornea. The other includes removing the top layer of the cornea with a special device or chemical, then using the laser. Ask your doctor which procedure is best for you.

    How Long Will It Take?

    Less than 30 minutes.

    How Much Will It Hurt?

    You will likely feel some discomfort when the suction ring is applied. Just after the procedure, expect a burning or itching sensation or the feeling that there is a foreign object in your eye. Your eye may tear and be red and bloodshot. You will most likely have a loss of vision at times during the procedure. This is normal.

    Postoperative Care

    You will wear a shield to protect your eye from injury or pressure, even while sleeping. When you return home, do the following to help ensure a smooth recovery:
    • Do not rub your eyes.
    • Vision may be hazy or cloudy; you may see starbursts or halos around lights.
    • Take pain medicine as recommended by your doctor .
    • Use eye drops prescribed by your doctor to prevent infection and decrease inflammation.
    • Do not put a contact lens or anything else in the operative eye unless instructed by your doctor.
    • Do not use cream, lotion, or make-up near the eye until allowed to do so by your eye doctor (usually at least two weeks).
    Vision changes and redness should gradually improve over several days. However, it may take up to six months for your vision to completely stabilize. Your doctor will schedule follow-up visits.
    Your doctor will tell you when you are allowed to return to normal activities. Most people can return to work within several days. You may be able to return to noncontact sport activities within several days but must avoid strenuous contact sports for at least several weeks.
    Ask your doctor about when it is safe to shower, bathe, or soak in water.
    Additional surgery may be necessary to further correct or enhance vision. If more surgery is needed, wait until your eyesight has stabilized. It is usually considered to be stable when you have consistent measurements on at least two consecutive exams several months apart.

    Call Your Doctor

    After arriving home, contact your doctor if any of the following occurs:
    • Redness, swelling, increasing pain, bleeding, or discharge from the eye
    • Signs of infection, including fever and chills
    • Vision worsens
    • Any other problems or concerns
    In case of an emergency, call for medical help right away.

    RESOURCES

    Eye Surgery Education Council http://www.lasikinstitute.org/

    LASIK SurgeryUnited States Food and Drug Administration http://www.fda.gov/cdrh/lasik

    CANADIAN RESOURCES

    Eyesite.ca http://www.eyesite.ca/

    Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/index%5Fe.html

    References

    American Academy of Ophthalmology website. Available at: http://www.aao.org/ .

    United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) website. Available at: http://www.fda.gov/ .

    Revision Information

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