LASIK (laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis) Surgery is a type of refractive laser eye surgery which is performed by ophthalmologists for correcting hyperopia, astigmatism and myopia. In laymans terms, LASIK is a surgical procedure that provides patients with an alternative to wearing corrective eyeglasses or contact lenses.
LASIK, to be brief, is performed in three basic steps altering the shape of the cornea to correct ones vision. The first step is to create a flap of corneal tissue. The second step is remodeling of the cornea underneath the flap with the laser. Finally, the flap is repositioned. Patients who normally wear soft contact lenses are normally instructed to stop wearing them 1 to 3 weeks before the procedure. Before the surgery, the patient`s corneas are examined with a pachymeter to determine their thickness, and with a topographer to measure their surface contour. Using low-power lasers, a topographer creates a topographic map of the cornea. This process also detects astigmatism and other irregularities in the shape of the cornea. Using this information, the surgeon calculates the amount and the locations of corneal tissue to be removed during the operation. The patient typically is prescribed and self-administers an antibiotic beforehand to minimize the risk of infection after the procedure. The operation is usually performed with the patient awake and mobile; however, the patient is sometimes given anesthetic eye drops and/or a mild sedative.
The satisfaction rate amoung patients whom have undergone LASIK ranges from about 92-98 percent. One of the most common reported complications from LASIK surgery is the incidence of “dry eyes.” According to an American Journal of Ophthalmology study of March 2006, the incidence rate of dry eyes from LASIK after the six month post operative healing period was around 37%. The Food and Drugs Administration website states that “dry eyes” could be permanent. The risk for a patient suffering from disturbing visual side effects such as halos, double vision, foggy vision and glare after LASIK depends on the degree of ametropia before the laser eye surgery and other risk factors. For this reason, it is important to take into account the individual risk potential of a patient and not just the average probability for all patients.
Some patients report a significantly reduced quality of life because of vision problems after LASIK surgery, so determining if you are candidate is a vital step prior to the procedure. Also, gathering as much information on the procedure is adviseable before proceeding with LASIK. The FDA website regarding LASIK clearly states: “Before undergoing a refractive procedure, you should carefully weigh the risks and benefits based on your own personal value system, and try to avoid being influenced by friends that have had the procedure or doctors encouraging you to do so.”
This is all well and good, however, the most recommended approach before moving forward is to see a trusted optometric physician to determine your candidacy for LASIK. For example, Dr. Beckwith of Austin County Eye Associates, is not only optometric physician but a corneal and laser vision specialist who informs and advises patients considering LASIK based on a thorough evaluation to determine and pinpoint patient risk factors. Dr. Beckwith has advised many patients about LASIK. Based on his thorough evaluations, he recommends either non-surgical opportunities which are available or he will initiate the next step by arranging an appointment with Dr. Stephen Slade of Slade & Baker Vision Center whom he works closely with. Dr. Slade is a well respected ophthalmologist and LASIK Eye Surgery pioneer who is a specialist in vision correction. Dr. Slade has extensive experience and has performed LASIK and other types of refractive surgery on more than 25,000 patients from Houston and around the world.
Even if the ophthalmologist is well respected and has carried out many procedures with little patient dissatisfaction, it is highly recommended for individuals considering LASIK to undertake a thorough evaluation by an optometric physician to determine risk factors. By undergoing this evaluation, you are not only receiving a qualified, informed second opinion but you are also able to continue forward with confidence knowing that a corneal specialist has thoroughly examined your individual case to avoid any potential complications. Although there are continually improvements being made in LASIK technology, a large body of conclusive evidence on long-term complications is yet to be established. Also, there is a small chance of immediate complications, such as haziness, halo, glare, some of which may be irreversible because the LASIK eye surgery procedure is irreversible. Seing an optometric physician to to evaluate the pros and cons of the procedure based on the patients specific case will assist that patient in making an informed decision about whether to proceed with LASIK. And there are non-surgical opportunites which should be explored and discussed with your physician.