The brand name “LASIK” is an abbreviation for “laser-assisted in-situ keratomileusis.” This specialized vision procedure first gained traction in the early 2000s. Since then, nearly 30 million patients have benefitted from LASIK to see more clearly. The procedure is used to correct the world’s most common vision conditions, including astigmatism, near-sightedness and far-sightedness.
The cornea is a transparent membrane that refracts light entering the eye. During LASIK eye surgery, the patient’s cornea is reshaped with a laser depending on how the cornea’s natural form is affecting eyesight. Near-sighted people have a naturally steep cornea, while far-sighted people are born with a shallower cornea. Traditional eye contacts sit over the cornea to temporarily change the cornea’s shape to make vision sharper; LASIK, then, can be thought of as permanent cornea restructuring without the need for contacts or any other foreign objects inside the eye.
According to both the Federal Drug Administration and the United Kingdom’s National Health Services, LASIK is permanently effective for patients who are determined to be appropriate for the procedure. The most qualified candidates for the procedure include those who do not have a history of chronic infections, do not have structural damage to their eyelids and have not experienced retinal detachment.
During LASIK, the area will be sufficiently numbed before the procedure begins. The patient will experience blurred or darkened vision while the laser does its work. Each eyelid has a special ring applied to it to prevent blinking; however, the anesthesia prevents the patient from experiencing any unpleasant feelings of dryness from being unable to blink. The patient is asked to participate in the precisioning of the cornea restructuring by reading an eye chart, similar to the ones found in any optometrist’s office. Dr. Patel uses the patient’s answers to fine-tune the laser’s positioning.
LASIK is performed as an outpatient procedure. While this means the patient does not need to spend the night in the hospital following the operation, they should still expect to rest over the next few days. A patient should never drive home from the procedure or take public transportation on their own; if a friend or family member is unable to drive them home, they should plan ahead for a taxi or ride-sharing service to pick them up. It is also recommended that the patient takes a nap once they are home to let their eyes rest and remoisturize. It can take some time for the full changes from the procedure to reach their optimal performance.