LASIK can treat a very broad range of nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. The best way to determine who is a good candidate is with a thorough eye exam. Candidates must be 18 years of age or older and have had little to no change to their prescription within 1-2 years, be in good general health, and have good eye health with no diseases such as cataracts or glaucoma. Good candidates should have realistic expectations.
While LASIK has been proven to be overwhelmingly successful in reducing dependence on glasses and contact lenses, how quickly your vision improves depends on how well you heal and the degree of correction required. Although patients can’t be assured 20/20 vision, most LASIK patients with mild to moderate prescriptions do achieve 20/20 vision or are within one line of their best-corrected vision. Clinical studies show that more than 98% of patients achieve 20/40 or better vision without glasses or contacts. Generally, this means they no longer need or have reduced their dependence on glasses or contacts to drive, play sports, watch movies and TV, or participate in careers requiring excellent vision
There is almost no pain involved with LASIK, but many patients find the procedure to be slightly uncomfortable. Anesthetic drops are used to numb the eye just before surgery begins. After the procedure, the eye may feel a foreign body sensation or slight irritation and burning sensation for a few hours, like a grain of sand in your eye, but most patients are very comfortable shortly thereafter. A mild sedative will be given immediately following the procedure for relaxation so you can go home and just rest.
The LASIK laser vision correction procedure usually takes less than 15 minutes in the operating room. The actual laser treatment time is only seconds.
Your vision immediately after the surgery is blurry like looking underwater. Usually, you are to go home and take a nap to let the flap stabilize in position. Most LASIK patients usually see quite well the day following their procedure and may be able to resume most of their normal daily activities right after their 1-day post-op visit. Although the speed of visual recovery depends on personal healing patterns, most patients notice dramatic visual results within the first few days following their procedure.
Lasik is considered a very safe procedure. The risk of an eye infection, a wrinkled flap, or inflammation under the flap is only about 1 in 1,000 but is possible. There is also a very small chance of having a complication when creating the flap in the cornea. Although, if this is the case, we simply abort the procedure, allow several weeks for the eye to heal then reschedule the patient for PRK. Therefore, this would not be considered a permanent complication and the patient would still be able to enjoy a life free from glasses.
Night glare – if the person’s pupils dilate wider than the zone of treatment, the person may notice glare around lights at night. This is sometimes bothersome but usually either subsides with time or the patient simply learns to ignore them. Night glare can also result if there is a leftover correction that needs to be addressed with glasses made for night driving or an enhancement.
Correction of distance vision will remove the ability to see up close in a nearsighted patient around the age of 45. This is very important to fully understand that it will be necessary to wear over-the-counter readers. Some patients choose to set their eyes for “monovision”, which means one eye sees clear distance and the other sees clear near. There is generally a trade-off of the sharpness of your vision to gain the flexibility to function without glasses.
Less than perfect vision. All people want perfection, and it is possible, but it is unwise to demand perfection from this surgery or your doctor. Each person absorbs laser energy slightly differently and heals differently. A very high percentage of patients see very well (20/40 or better – legal driving vision) so this surgery represents a major lifestyle change however it is critical to have REALISTIC expectations.
Remember that the best side effect is better vision!
If the person sees less than the desired result and there the surgeon deems it necessary to do so, the flap can be lifted after approximately 6 months post-op and more treatment administered. This possibility is a comfort to those who preoperatively are perfectionists and to those postoperatively who are not completely satisfied with their results.