In recent years, LASIK has become more accessible than ever. But despite the popularity of the procedure, plenty of people who could benefit from LASIK don’t know what the surgery entails or how candidacy is determined. If you’re one of these people, that’s okay! Here at Chicago LASIK Center, we’ve put together a few of the most commonly asked questions about LASIK to help inform your decision about surgery.
What is LASIK?
LASIK is an acronym that stands for laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis. Roughly translated, “in situ keratomileusis” means “sculpting the cornea.” This is essentially what LASIK is — reshaping the cornea with a laser to correct refractive errors.
The cornea is the front part of the eye that refracts light that passes through it. Having an irregularly shaped cornea is what causes refractive errors like myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), and astigmatism.
Glasses and contacts are used to fix these refractive errors by bending light before it passes through the cornea. LASIK corrects these errors by changing the shape of the cornea, which can significantly reduce or eliminate the need for glasses or contacts.
Who Can Get LASIK?
In general, most people with a refractive error are good candidates for LASIK surgery.
There are, however, some requirements that need to be met:
- Be at least 21 years old
- Be in good health
- Have no changes in your prescription for at least a year
- Have a sufficiently thick cornea to allow for the safe removal of tissue
Have a prescription within the following limits:
- -11.00 diopters of nearsightedness
- +5.00 diopters of farsightedness
- 5.00 diopters of astigmatism
When you schedule a LASIK consultation, your surgeon will assess for all of these requirements before determining your candidacy. Certain health conditions can also increase the risks associated with LASIK.
You may not be a good candidate for LASIK if you have any of the following conditions:
- Autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis
- Chronic dry eye
- Eye injuries
How Does LASIK Work?
LASIK surgery is actually fairly simple — the entire procedure only takes a few minutes per eye.
LASIK is performed in three steps:
- The surgeon uses an ultra-precise laser to create a corneal flap. This is a small section on the top of the cornea that is lifted and then replaced to act as a natural bandage after surgery. Before the flap is made, however, the patient is prepped and anesthetized with numbing eye drops, which prevents you from feeling any pain during surgery.
- The surgeon lifts the corneal flap. This is usually done with a little suction, causing a slight feeling of pressure for the patient.
- The cornea is shaped with an excimer laser. This is the bulk of the surgery, and most patients don’t feel anything during this last step. After the cornea is reshaped, the flap is repositioned, and no sutures are needed to hold it in place — it will naturally fuse back with the cornea over time.
What Kind of Side Effects and Complications Are Possible?
While the surgery itself is painless, some patients may experience eye irritation in the hours following LASIK. Usually this only lasts a day or two and can be eased with over-the-counter painkillers. It’s also important to take prescribed eye drops as directed by your surgeon to prevent infection and promote healing.
It’s rare to experience complications after LASIK, but it can happen. Most complications are mitigated by pre-screening, but like any other surgery, the risks are there.
The most common complications are:
- Dry eye
- Poor night vision
- Corneal flap problems
You can avoid many of these complications by caring for your eyes properly after surgery. Flap complications can also be corrected with a follow-up procedure, although they are rarely needed.
Is LASIK Permanent?
LASIK is a permanent procedure; however, it does not prevent the effects of aging. Patients are still prone to presbyopia, cataracts, and other age-related eye conditions that can affect vision.
While the vast majority of patients do achieve 20/20 vision or better after LASIK, perfect vision is not guaranteed. As you grow older and your eyes change, you may need a follow-up procedure to “touch up” your vision. LASIK enhancements, also known as retreatments, are normal. When you have LASIK, your surgeon will discuss the potential for needing enhancement in the future.
LASIK Surgery, Chicago
Ready to toss your glasses and contacts and start your journey toward 20/20 vision? Call us at (312) 955-0025 or schedule an appointment to discuss your options for LASIK surgery in Chicago!