Did you know that approximately 10 million Americans have benefited from LASIK vision correction since 1999 when it was first approved by the FDA?
It remains one of the most popular elective surgeries in America, and with good reason. LASIK boasts a success rate of between 96 and 98 percent. And an impressive 40 to 50 percent of patients enjoy vision better than 20/20.
But for the patients who elect to have LASIK, life post-surgery is all about the little things that people with good vision take for granted. Like opening your eyes in the morning and seeing clearly or not worrying about losing a contact in the pool.
Curious about the types of LASIK and whether or not the procedure’s right for you? Read on for a full breakdown of the vision correction procedure.
What Is LASIK?
LASIK is an acronym that stands for Laser-Assisted In Situ Keratomileusis or laser eye surgery. LASIK has a variety of applications when it comes to vision correction.
In fact, it can help patients with any of the following eyesight issues:
Laser eye surgery represents an effective intervention for these conditions because it reshapes the cornea of the eye. Many people assume when they hear the term LASIK that it refers to one specific type of procedure.
But it’s actually an umbrella term for many different types of laser eye procedures. Each of these types relies on different technologies and techniques.
LASIK represents one of several types of laser eye surgeries commonly used by physicians to correct vision deficits. Within LASIK, there are also a variety of procedures.
How Does LASIK Work?
Before electing to have LASIK surgery, it’s important to understand the different options available to you. LASIK procedures all involve some procedural commonalities.
In each case, your doctor will start by thoroughly scanning your eye. This scan will measure and map corneal elevation changes and abnormalities affecting your vision.
On the day of the procedure, they’ll use a blade to make a hinged flap in the cornea. This allows them to remove microscopic layers from the cornea using a laser thereby correcting your vision.
But the types of tools and techniques used in LASIK. Procedures include:
- Conventional LASIK
- Wavefront-optimized LASIK
- Wavefront-guided LASIK
- Topography-guided LASIK
- Monovision LASIK
Let’s take a closer look at what each of these types of LASIK procedures offers to patients. Ultimately, which type of procedure you choose will depend on your physicians’ recommendations and your unique eye needs.
Types of LASIK Eye Surgery
Having a basic understanding of the differences between these procedures will help you converse with your doctor during a consultation.
Conventional LASIK relies on a specialized map or wave scan to measure your eye before surgery using an aberrometer. This tool measures a variety of different optical properties of your eye beyond your prescription to aid correction.
Wavefront-optimized LASIK takes into account the curvature of the cornea and increases the number of peripheral pulses. Many patients report better-quality vision (including fewer night vision issues) as a result of this procedure.
During this procedure, data collected from a wavefront-sensing aberrometer gets transferred electronically to the treatment laser. It works well for treating myopia and astigmatism in combination and also works well for farsightedness.
Topography-integrated LASIK solutions rely on a highly accurate map of a patient’s eye shape, referred to as an “optical fingerprint.” This map is made with an iDesign Refractive Laser scan of the eye and creates a custom blueprint of the eye.
The FDA recently approved a new LASIK procedure known as monovision LASIK that corrects the vision of patients who are 40 years or older.
Monovision LASIK reduces or eliminates the need for reading glasses. How? By treating one eye for myopia (nearsightedness) and the other for emmetropia (distances).
What You Can Expect as a LASIK Screening Appointment
Before your LASIK procedure, you’ll have your eyes scanned by the iDesign Refractive Studio. This three-second scan measures a wide variety of optical elements while creating instant scans of your eye’s surface and structure.
It records a wide variety of crucial eye features such as how light travels within your eyes. It also measures and maps out variation in the elevation and curvature of your corneas.
The result? It creates 27 different maps of the cornea’s surface. But these maps do far more than provide a comprehensive picture of the cornea.
They also represent a step-by-step guide for how to treat each individual patient. What’s more, because of these highly accurate maps, eye surgeons are able to place the laser with hyper-precision.
After this map is complete, your physician will take general measurements of your eye to evaluate its health.
For example, they’ll dilate your eyes, check for conditions such as diabetes and glaucoma, and come to a determination of whether LASIK’s right for you.
Preparing for LASIK Surgery
Once your physician determines that you’re a good candidate for the procedure, you’ll schedule an appointment to have the procedure done.
In terms of pre-operative care, there are a few things to keep in mind. For patients considering monovision LASIK, you may need to take part in a one-week contact lens trial.
This involves wearing contacts with the monovision prescription you’re considering. Why the trial? To ensure that you feel comfortable with the vision correction prior to surgery.
As for other LASIK procedures, you’ll need to stop wearing your normal contact lenses for two to four weeks prior to the procedure. Contacts change the shape of your eye and impair your doctor’s ability to get a stable eye measurement reading.
By abstaining from wearing your lenses, you give your eyes a chance to stabilize. This, in turn, allows your doctor to get the readings that they need.
What to Expect During LASIK
Your eye surgeon will use numbing drops to remove any painful sensations. Once the drops take effect, you’ll be asked to keep both eyes open without squinting and look at a fixation light or target.
A device will be used to keep your head still and your eyes open throughout the procedure. The doctor will cut a thin “flap” into your cornea providing them access to your eye. Then, they’ll use the iDesign as a guide to slowly flatten your cornea.
After the optimal corneal shape is achieved, they’ll set the flap back in place. This will leave you with the equivalent of a paper cut on your eye. Going home and sleeping after surgery remains the best way to let your body heal.
Following the surgery, your vision won’t be 100 percent right away. So, don’t be surprised if it looks blurry. That’s absolutely normal.
Doctors advise patients to bring along a designated driver to take them home after the surgery. When it comes to alleviating any discomfort in your eyes post-surgery? Rest is your number one line of defense.
Your physician will also prescribe an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory to ease any painful symptoms. Some patients also require a topical steroid to keep down the pain.
Within 24 hours of the surgery, you’ll schedule another follow-up appointment with your physician. At this time, they’ll evaluate any dryness that you may be experiencing as well as how your eyes are healing.
Most patients don’t see a full return of vision for about four to six weeks. But they can still function normally in their daily life. This includes partaking in activities such as swimming and putting on eye makeup.
If you’re 45 or older, you’ll more than likely require reading glasses after LASIK. (Unless you’re going specifically for monovision LASIK.) But most patients no longer need prescription lenses.
Changing Your Life and Outlook Through Corrective Eye Surgery
Despite the various types of LASIK procedures out there today, patients of corrective eye surgery enjoy a phenomenal success rate.
When you’re ready to change your life and outlook, consider LASIK vision correction. It boasts consistently superior results and will revolutionize how you see the world. (Pun intended!)
Schedule a free consultation and take your first step towards better vision. During the appointment, we’ll take a reading of your eyeglass or contact prescription and create a corneal topography map of your eye to determine if LASIK’s right for you.