Whether you suffer from nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism, LASIK can provide you a long-lasting alternative to prescription glasses or contact lenses. Since 1991, over 8 million Americans have had the procedure, with complication rates among the lowest in medicine. Furthermore, a meta analysis of LASIK satisfaction studies has found that over 95% of patients had a positive experience undergoing LASIK. Curious to find out what the LASIK process is like? Read on to find out.
Step 1: The Preoperative Examination
Before your procedure, our physicians make sure that you are a fully qualified candidate for LASIK. This involves a highly comprehensive review of your ocular and overall health to make sure your eyes and body are fit enough to undergo the procedure. They will screen for disqualifying conditions, such as glaucoma, cataracts, or retinal issues. In addition, they will also take detailed photographs and maps of your eyes so they can optimize their treatment plans and maximize your chances of a successful outcome.
At the Santa Monica Eye Medical Group, we use the latest medical imaging technology so that our physicians are in-tune with your particular physiology. Published literature highlights the benefits and safety of using this kind of mapping for our LASIK patients. We use the Galilei G4 Dual-Scheimpflug Tomographer to get a complete topographic map of your cornea. Much like a map an experienced hiker would use when traversing rough terrain, the Galilei provides a topographic map of both the front and back of your cornea, with all of its microscopic hills and valleys that may have an impact on how your LASIK procedure is performed. Additionally, the device also gives a precise reading of how thick your cornea is, which is a critical measurement that may exclude you from undergoing a LASIK procedure if it is found to be too thin. The device also scans for a condition called keratoconus, which is your cornea undergoes progressive thinning, resulting in vision abnormalities.
Once you have been fully examined and cleared for LASIK, our friendly surgeon coordinators will setup your surgery date and make sure you have all of the information you need to have a successful procedure.
Step 2: Creating the Flap
You will be comfortably placed on a rotating bed and slid under a large device consisting of a microscope, laser, and surgical computer. Anesthetic drops will be placed in your eyes and a medical device called a lid speculum will be used to keep your eyes open, so you don’t have to worry about it. Next, a soft suction device will be applied to your eye to hold it in place. You will feel a bit of pressure, but no pain. Once your cornea is stable, a laser will make a circular incision to form a flap. The flap will be folded back to reveal an inner layer of cornea called the stroma.
Step 3: Remodeling the Cornea
With the stroma exposed, another type of laser, called an excimer laser, will be used to remodel it. Each burst from the laser is only 1o to 20 nanoseconds and applies an extremely small amount of energy. The laser modifies the tissue by painlessly vaporizing a layer of tissue only micrometers thick. A highly accurate eye-tracking system is used up to 4000 times per second to retarget the laser, allowing for extremely precise treatment. Again, you will experience a bit of pressure and perhaps some minor discomfort associated with the pressure. You may also notice a slight smell as the laser is being fired.
After the remodeling is complete, the physician will carefully fold the flap back into place and check to make sure there is no debris, air bubbles, or other irregularities on the eye. The flap will naturally adhere and no stitching is required.
Step 4: Post-Operative Care
Once your LASIK surgery is complete, you will be able to return home to rest for the day. Your vision may be blurry for a few days after the procedure and its recommended that you take time off of work and physical activities while you heal and adjust. You will be provided complete instructions for how to deal with any mild pain or discomfort you feel during the healing process.
Your first postoperative visit will be twenty four hours after the procedure and your surgeon will check to make sure your vision is improving and your cornea is healing properly. Many patients will be able to experience their new vision at this time.