LASIK eye surgery or "Laser-Assisted in Situ Keratomileusis" is a procedure done to the eyes of patients suffering from severe myopia through the use of lasers. In essence, the laser beam is used to reshape your cornea in order to create clearer image quality in what you see around you.
LASIK is basically the latest and more common of a series of corrective eye procedures that have been done since the 1970's to patients with vision problems. With LASIK surgery, you can be treated and even cured of conditions such as myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), astigmatism and presbyopia.
Generally speaking, the only people who can't have LASIK surgery done to their eyes are those with very thin corneas.
What the LASIK Procedure Involves
Having LASIK surgery done to your eyes is both simple and fairly quick to undergo. A visit to an eye doctor’s office will be your starting point and more likely than not the doctor will first give you an eye exam to decide whether or not your vision problems can first be fixed by more basic measures such as eyeglasses or contact lenses, before moving onto the surgical option; of course, you can also insist on LASIK surgery if you feel it to be the most comfortable option. If your doctor is examining your eye based on the assumption that you will be going through a LASIK procedure, then he or she is going to use a completely painless and noninvasive specialized scanner to take detailed measurements of your cornea's dimensions for the sake of knowing how to operate.
Once decided upon, you will also need to follow a few basic advance preparations that will probably include:
Sticking strictly to glasses for a few weeks before surgery: contact lenses distort the shape of your cornea and would prevent precise measurement of how much to sculpt away.
Keeping your eyes and eyelashes clean and avoiding eye makeup a day or two in advance: this will give your eyes time to clean out completely and minimize the risk of infections or stray particles that interfere with the laser.
Arranging for payment: LASIK surgery is normally considered an elective procedure and many insurance plans won't cover it.
Arranging for transportation in advance: you may be able to drive yourself to the eye clinic but the return trip won't be something you should try on your own, although the procedure has a minimal recovery time, driving is not a good idea immediately afterward.
Your LASIK procedure itself will be minimally uncomfortable and isn't likely to last more than 30 minutes or so; you won't even have to lie down in an operating room or remove your clothes. The only anesthetic given is a series of numbing eye drops that ensure you feel no pain at all. In fact, the most uncomfortable part of the whole procedure is usually the tool that's used to keep the eyes open constantly so they don't blink, and this is a pretty minor irritation.
Realistically, the entire LASIK procedure is minimally invasive, almost completely painless and you can even see right after surgery -although with slightly blurry vision. Additionally, as already listed above, the advance preparation steps you need to take hardly involve any major changes in habit.
The same applies for post-operative care. Your eye sight will normally between two and three months to become clear (as the cornea completely heals) and for the first few weeks of that time you will be advised not to wear makeup around the eyes. In some cases, bandages have to be worn over your eyes while you sleep at night for the first few days after having a LASIK procedure done. In other words, you can get back to your normal daily life as soon as you leave the surgical clinic.
It might also be a good idea to have a follow-up visit with your eye doctor a few days after the procedure to make sure the healing process is going smoothly.
However, the greatest benefit of LASIK surgery is the fact that you're given the gift of having normal eye sight restored for decades more and ridding yourself of irritating contact lenses or expensive glasses.
The risks that come with a LASIK procedure really are quite minimal and an estimated 8 out of 10 patients have their vision successfully improved with no problems at all. Nonetheless, in some cases, risks may include under-correction of corneal tissue (which can be fixed through follow-up surgery), over-correction (the most serious risk, although highly unlikely), certain types of eyesight disorders that persist for anywhere from 1 to several months after surgery and a very small possibility of eye infection following surgery.
More likely than not however, your LASIK procedure will be quick, painless and let you go back to normal activities in no time at all.
Emily Joseph has been writing about Lasik for over a decade. When she isn’t writing, she can be found at home with her family or training for her upcoming marathon.