What is LASIK?
Laser-Assisted In-Situ Keratomileusis (LASIK) is an FDA-approved surgical procedure intended to reduce dependency on eyeglasses or contact lenses. The most commonly performed vision correction procedure, LASIK is performed on nearly 1 million patients each year to correct myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), and astigmatism by permanently altering the shape of the cornea, the eye’s thin, transparent covering. Corneal reshaping increases the eye’s focusing power and improves vision.
What is wavefront-guided Custom LASIK?
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.
How does wavefront-guided Custom LASIK work?
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 contacts.
Am I a Good LASIK Candidate?
The LASIK procedure allows for correction of low to extreme degrees of myopia, and low to moderate degrees of hyperopia and astigmatism. Because of its many advantages, LASIK is our procedure of choice in most cases, even for lower prescriptions.
After a thorough eye examination, your eye doctor can tell you whether or not you are a good candidate for LASIK. Whether laser vision correction is right for you depends on a number of medical considerations. It also depends on you, your lifestyle and your expectations. Speaking with someone who has had LASIK, as well as your eye doctor, can help you make the right decision. If you would like to talk with someone who has been through the process, please call our office in Chevy Chase, Maryland, at (301) 657-5700 for a contact list of previous LASIK patients who have offered to share their experiences with you.
Assuming your eye doctor determines that you area good candidate for laser vision correction, the decision to have LASIK surgery is ultimately yours. Only you know what impact wearing glasses and/or contact lenses has had on the quality of your life, and only you know the value to you of reducing your dependency on these visual aids.
LASIK: The Procedure
Before the LASIK procedure, your eyes will be anesthetized with eye drops and a speculum will be used to restrict eyelid movement. You will be instructed to fixate on a flashing red light with one eye, while the other eye is taped shut.
During LASIK surgery, the surgeon will use a sophisticated laser to create a thin flap. This bladeless technique is accurate and painless. Once the flap is lifted a second laser, the fastest most precise laser in North America, will be used by the surgeon to reshape the corneal surface. Lastly, the flap is then carefully repositioned and given sufficient time to adhere.
The Risks of LASIK
As with any surgical procedure, there are risks involved with LASIK. Sight threatening risks are rare. We encourage you to meet with your surgeon to discuss any possible risks and complications. The chance of having a serious vision-threatening complication from LASIK is much less than 1%. As with any surgery there are risks. Any LASIK surgeon at Washington Eye Physicians and Surgeons will be happy to answer any questions you may have.
The Benefits of LASIK
According to the Eye Surgery Education Council (ESEC), more than 90 percent of patients who undergo LASIK experience vision improved to 20/40—the minimum vision standard for driving an automobile or playing sports without corrective eyewear. Fifty-six percent of patients report post-surgery 20/20 vision. Although LASIK will not prevent age-related eye conditions or diseases, results are permanent. Most patients return to their normal daily activities one day after surgery.
The results for Custom LASIK with wavefront technology are even more impressive. Custom LASIK postoperative results are more predictable and unprecedented, with over 20% of patients achieving 20/12.5 vision or better, over 70% of patients achieving 20/16 or better and, 98% of patients achieving 20/20 or better without lenses after surgery. This result has been referred to as “super vision” — significantly better than 20/20. The incidence of postoperative complications such as glare, halos, and difficulties with night vision that occur for a small minority of LASIK patients can also be significantly reduced with wavefront technology.
Free LASIK Consultation
Dr. Martin, Dr. Adi, and Dr. Macedo (our LASIK specialists) invite you to make an appointment for a free evaluation of your eyes. The exam is without obligation and is offered as a free service to prospective laser surgery candidates. You can count on meeting your surgeon, being carefully evaluated, and having all of your questions and concerns addressed. We will also educate you about the latest developments in Custom LASIK surgery and let you know all of your options.
We look forward to meeting with you and evaluating whether laser vision correction would be a good choice for you. To schedule a free LASIK consultation, please call our office at (301) 657-5700. Thank you for contacting Washington Eye Physicians & Surgeons.
CORRECTING YOUR VISION WITH PRK: BACK TO THE FUTURE?
The most common excimer laser procedure to correct vision is called LASIK. In LASIK, a flap is made into cornea, the laser is applied to improve the focus of the eye and then the flap is replaced. Although it is the best choice for most people, for some patients LASIK is not the safest or best way to use the excimer laser to correct their vision
PRK is a procedure which uses this same excimer laser to achieve the same excellent vision and, for some, it is safer than LASIK. Many patients, for example, who had been told they could not have LASIK because their corneas were too thin or their eyeglass prescription was too high can now safely have their vision corrected using this technique with the same long-term results as LASIK.
Because PRK avoids making a flap into the corneal tissue, any risks associated with such a flap are reduced or eliminated. For people who are extremely active in certain sports or in occupations, such as firefighting or the military, where the potential for trauma to the eyes may be increased, PRK may be an ideal procedure because no flap is made therefore the structural strength of the eye is not as affected.
LASIK and PRK achieve the same excellent vision and use the same laser to achieve these results. For most patients, the main difference between the two is quickly their vision returns after their procedure. One can think of LASIK as the “Ferrari” of laser vision correction in terms of the most rapid return of vision and only minimal irritation of your eyes. PRK is closer to a “tractor”. Both procedures get you to the same place; it’s just a matter of how quickly.
In PRK, the surface layers of corneal cells are removed and then the laser is applied to the cornea to improve the eye’s focus. In LASIK, a flap is made, lifted, and the laser is applied to the cornea. The LASIK flap is then replaced and the procedure is complete.
In some ways, there is longer medical experience with surface procedures, such as PRK, than there is with LASIK. In fact, the first FDA approval for the excimer laser was for use on the surface. PRK, however, should never be confused with RK or “radial keratotomy.” This is a much older procedure that did not use an excimer laser at all.
ARE SURFACE PROCEDURES THE FUTURE?
Some surgeons worldwide believe that because of the potentially increased safety and other advantages, surface procedures such as PRK will become the most commonly performed excimer laser procedure instead of LASIK. Therefore people should not think of PRK as an outdated or inferior vision correction procedure.
The key to determining whether laser vision correction is a good choice and which procedure is the best for you is to be certain that your surgeon is well versed in all of these procedures and is highly experienced, ethical and have an excellent reputation. Be sure to ask the surgeon who will perform your procedure which option is best for your prescription, corneal thickness, and the other unique characteristics of your eyes.