LASIK Eye Surgery: Understanding How The Procedure Works
LASIK eye surgery is one of the most common laser refractive surgeries used to correct vision problems, such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism.
LASIK MD has been providing laser vision correction for almost two decades after being founded in 2001 by Dr. Mark Cohen and Dr. Avi Wallerstein.
Our surgeons have completed more than 1 million successful procedures, 500,000 of which have been performed in Quebec alone, including LASIK, PRK, PresbyVisionTM (to treat presbyopia), and Corneal Collagen Crosslinking (to treat keratoconus).
If you’re considering whether LASIK eye surgery is right for you or if you already have a consultation or surgery booked, you may be wondering what to expect from the procedure. Below, we explain how LASIK surgery works and what potential patients can expect from their experience.
How LASIK Eye Surgery Works
Vision problems are often the result of an error in how our eyes refract light. During the vision process, light rays pass through various structures of the eye. This includes the cornea (the transparent, dome-shaped structure covering the front of the eye) and then the crystalline lens (the natural lens that receives light rays refracted by the cornea), which focuses light into an image on the retina that lines the back of the eye. However, if the light is bent incorrectly, it prevents a precise image from forming, leading to blurred or compromised vision.
Glasses and contacts work to temporarily improve vision by allowing the eye to focus light in the right spot on the retina, thereby producing the clearest image possible. However, LASIK eye surgery is designed to provide a long-term solution by reshaping the cornea itself to correct the refraction. LASIK is short for Laser in Situ Keratomileusis, and as its name suggests, it uses a laser to alter the cornea’s shape.
During the procedure, the surgeon will often use an instrument known as a microkeratome to create a flap in the cornea, which can be pulled back to expose the underlying corneal tissue. There also exists bladeless forms of LASIK that use a high-energy laser to create the same flap. Then, using an excimer laser, the surgeon is able to reshape the cornea in order to correct the patient’s vision.
This begs the question as to how the surgeon knows the proper shape to reconfigure the cornea into. Prior to the procedure, we will create a pre-specified cornea pattern. Using advanced diagnostic technology and a series of extensive pre-operative tests, we are able to measure the thickness and shape of the cornea, thereby allowing us to create a three-dimensional map of the cornea’s structures. These results allow the surgeon to determine beforehand what shape the cornea needs to take in order to correct the vision problems.
What to Expect Before, During, & After LASIK
LASIK eye surgery offers one of the quickest and easiest recovery periods in comparison to other types of operations – most people are back to their normal routines after only 24 hours.
But LASIK is a process. In order to ensure the smoothest and best results possible, LASIK MD patients can expect to go through the following leading up to and after their surgery.
Before The Procedure
All interested candidates must attend a pre-operative consultation in order to determine if they’re eligible for LASIK or another vision correction procedure. At LASIK MD, we offer free, no-obligation pre-operative assessments in order to help individuals determine if laser vision correction is right for them. During your consultation, an eye care professional will review your vision and eye health. They will be available to explain the procedures as well as answer any questions or address any concerns you may have.
If your initial consultation is taking place in-clinic, you will be taken to a pre-operative room where a series of painless tests will be conducted to determine your candidacy. Depending on your prescription, your pupils may need to be dilated. In-clinic pre-operative consultations tend to last an average of two hours.
Your consultation may also take place virtually. In such cases, potential patients will meet with an eye care professional via phone or video conference. Virtual consultations often last thirty minutes. If you’re found to be a good candidate for LASIK following a virtual consultation, you’ll need to complete an in-clinic assessment consisting of eye-imaging scans and measurements on the same day as your procedure. This is imperative in order to confirm your eligibility and to ensure you receive the best post-operative results possible.
During The Procedure
On the day of the surgery, your eye prescription will once again be verified and your pupils measured to ensure the best results. A surgical counsellor will meet with you to answer any final questions or concerns you may have. The surgical counsellor will also explain what to expect during the procedure, review post-operative care instructions, and to fill out remaining paperwork. If you wear contact lenses, which can change the cornea’s shape, you would have been instructed to avoid wearing them for a certain amount of time prior to the surgery.
Overall, you can expect to be in the clinic for approximately 3-4 hours on the day of the procedure. The LASIK eye surgery, however, only lasts for around 15 minutes, and the laser is used for less than 10 seconds on each eye. You will be seated and given numbing eye drops. The surgeon will use an instrument to keep your eyes open. A suction ring will be placed over your eye prior to the cutting of the corneal flap. Patients may experience a feeling of pressure or a dimness in their vision.
Once the flap has been created, the surgeon is able to fold it back to access the area of the cornea that needs reshaping. Using a laser, the surgeon will then begin the reshaping process. The patient will be instructed to focus on a point of light, which keeps their eye fixed as the laser reshapes the cornea. Each laser pulse removes a portion of the corneal tissue. The surgeon is then able to lay the flap back into place when the corneal shape is satisfactory; the flap will heal on its own with time.
After The Procedure
It’s normal for patients to feel some irritation directly after the procedure. Your eyes may experience an itchy, burning, or watery sensation. Your vision will also likely be blurry. However, it’s important to note that LASIK eye surgery is a relatively painless procedure.
At LASIK MD, we ask our patients to relax in our waiting room for a period of time to ensure the cornea and flap have started healing properly. You will be provided with a pair of sunglasses to wear to protect your eyes from light sensitivity. We recommend using the provided sunglasses as opposed to personal ones, which may not provide adequate protection. You will also be given a variety of post-operative care instruction that you are required to follow to ensure the smoothest recovery possible. Patients will not be able to drive immediately following the procedure, so please plan ahead in term of transportation.
Patients must also attend a variety of post-operative appointments to monitor their recovery. Your first one is mandatory and will take place 24 hours after the surgery. Afterwards, you can choose to have your remaining post-operative examinations with your own eye care professional in lieu of a LASIK MD eye specialist, if you wish.
LASIK eye surgery is widely seen as one of the safest and most convenient elective medical procedures available. It can provide a long-term solution to vision problems, thereby transforming the quality of life for its patients. If you’re interested in learning more about LASIK eye surgery and other vision correction options, book a free, no-obligation consultation today.