Since the excimer laser was approved as safe and effective in 1995, several million Americans have had their vision corrected and have recommended LASIK to friends and family. However, concerns about nighttime glare, and reports of a very small percentage of problems have caused many people who would prefer not to wear glasses or contacts to put off having LASIK surgery. Contrary to the notion that “…the laser does all the work in LASIK,” the addition of advanced wavefront technology used in Custom LASIK requires even more surgical expertise and judgment than conventional LASIK.
Based on clinical research submitted to the FDA, most eye doctors feel that Custom LASIK will enable more people to have their vision corrected more safely than ever before. In fact, many patients who had wavefront-guided Custom LASIK found their night vision after surgery was better than their night vision with glasses or contacts before surgery.
This is not to say that LASIK, as it’s been performed since 1996, is not a safe procedure. On the contrary, our practice has performed well over ten thousand LASIK procedures with overwhelmingly good results. Custom LASIK is expected to provide an extra measure of precision that will allow many patients who’ve been “waiting for better technology” to now feel comfortable having their vision corrected.
Conventional LASIK is based upon the patient’s eyeglass prescription. Custom LASIK takes into account not just the eyeglass prescription but also subtle irregularities in the way each individual’s eye focuses light. Two people can have the same eyeglass prescription, but no two people have the same wavefront map. In other words, with Custom LASIK more sophisticated measurements are used and a more precise correction is obtained. Some Custom LASIK patients even achieve better than 20/20 vision! Not all LASIK patients will benefit from custom cornea ablation. Custom LASIK is most valuable for those people with greater than average irregularities in their prescription. Only a doctor experienced in LASIK can determine the value of Custom LASIK for each individual person. Contrary to the old myth that “the laser does all the work in LASIK”, adding the more advanced technology of wavefront analysis requires even more surgical expertise and judgment than conventional LASIK. Now that Custom LASIK is a reality, many patients – who were told they could not have their vision corrected in the past because of large pupils or unusual prescriptions – may now safely reduce or eliminate their need for glasses or contact lenses.
What to Expect Before LASIK Surgery
Before you can schedule your LASIK procedure, it is important to see your doctor for a LASIK consultation. During the LASIK consultation, your doctor will make sure you are a good LASIK candidate. A good LASIK candidate:
• Is over the age of 18
• Has had a stable prescription for at least a year
• Has no interfering health issues like diabetes or other autoimmune disease
• Has not had any previous eye injury or surgery that would make LASIK risky
• Is not pregnant or nursing
• Is able to lay flat and still for the duration of the procedure
• Has no other eye diseases that would affect the cornea, like keratoconus or dry eye syndrome
During your consultation, your doctor will check your visual acuity and ask some questions about your needs and lifestyle. If LASIK is a good fit for you, your doctor will work with you to schedule your surgery!
In the weeks before your surgery, your doctor will ask you to take your contact lenses out. Contact lenses change the shape of your cornea over time, and can skew the results of your surgery. Taking them out at least two weeks prior allows your corneas to return to their natural state.
What to Expect the Day of Surgery
The day of your surgery, be sure to come in to the office wearing no makeup. You will check in at the front desk and be taken into the LASIK suite for preparation. You will be able to take a mild sedative to calm any nerves.
Your LASIK doctor will examine your eyes before surgery to make sure everything is good to go. Before surgery, your doctor will numb your eyes. You will be helped onto the LASIK chair and lay in a flat position. Your doctor will keep your eyes open by gently positioning a lid speculum over the eyelids.
The surgery will begin under the femtosecond laser. Your surgeon will create the corneal flap, which takes about 15-30 seconds per eye. Once the flap is created, you will be switched over to the excimer laser. The excimer laser removes microscopic amounts of tissue to reshape the cornea.
Once the proper adjustments to the cornea have been made, the corneal flap is smoothed over and the surgery is complete!
What to Expect After LASIK Surgery
Immediately after surgery, you will have a moment to rest at the office. Your doctor will give your eyes another post-op check and go over at-home care procedures. Be sure to have someone with you to drive you home, as your vision will be blurry and you may be groggy from the sedative.
Once home and as the numbing drops wear off, you may experience some sensitivity and itchiness. For this reason, we recommend taking a nap/resting your eyes. Once awake, you can use some lubrication drops to relieve any irritation. The next day, you will go in for a check in appointment at our office. This will ensure that you are healing properly, and give you a chance to bring up any questions or concerns. You will have more follow-up appointments periodically over the next year.
While many patients report immediate improvements in vision, it may take several weeks to see full results. Be sure to report any visual disturbances to your eye doctor.