LASIK eye surgery: What is it? How does it work? Is it safe?

LASIK is an acronym for Laser In-Situ Keratomileusis. I guess the people who invented it didn’t like the sound of LAISK surgery so they switched the “I” with the “S”. Despite the lack of acronym-making skills, their laser eye surgery procedure has been a godsend for hundreds of thousands around the world. There’s little argument that LASIK surgery is a wonderful vision correction procedure, but what exactly is it?

What LASIK can and can’t do
LASIK can usually correct myopia , and can often correct vision problems stemming from astigmatism and hyperopia. It does little or no good in correcting presbyopia, however. This is because LASIK surgery is used to reshape the cornea; While astigmatism, hyperopia and myopia are all problems with the shape of the eye (too long, too short, distorted), presbyopia occurs when a normal-shaped eye has lost its flexibility due to age – thus, there is no need to reshape the cornea.

How LASIK works
First the surgeon uses an instrument called a microkeratome (or the new IntraLase laser) to create a thin, circular “flap” in the cornea. The LASIK doctor then folds the flap back and the laser pulses a beam of light onto the cornea, vaporizing a small portion of it. The LASIK doctor can control how much and which part of the cornea is removed, thus reshaping it differently depending on what sort of vision correction is required – near-sighted, far-sighted, etc. The “flap” is then folded back down into place, covering the area where the tissue was removed for the cornea. The great thing about your cornea is that it heals quickly when the flap is placed over it, allowing the patient to utilize their new vision in a matter of days.

Is LASIK Safe?
No surgical procedure is perfectly safe, including LASIK. For instance, the surgeon might take too much corneal tissue away, which is called “over correction”. Or, conversely, he might not take enough of the tissue away, which is called “under correction”. Another potential problem is “wrinkling,” which is similar to getting a crease in your contact lens, only it occurs in the corneal flap that is placed over the area that was operated on. The over correction or under correction may be slight enough that no further surgery is required, or the surgeon may ask you to come in for a second LASIK operation. The wrinkling can be fixed with non-laser eye surgery.

Other potential problems could include side effects such as: fuzzy vision, sensitivity to light, double vision and in extremely rare circumstances, partial or complete loss of vision.

WOW – Scared yet? Well you shouldn’t be. The vast majority of LASIK surgeries go through without a hitch. Choosing a qualified ophthalmologist can help reduce the risk of problems even further. I have compiled a list of reputable ophthalmologists in certain areas. Whether contacting an eye doctor from this list or from the phonebook in your area, be sure to ask for their qualifications and get a list of their previous clients. Do a search for their name on the Internet and see what other people have to say. You could even go as far as checking to see if there are any law suits against them by former patients. If you take the appropriate measures when selecting a LASIK doctor, your surgery should go smoothly and you will be seeing the world in a clear new way – without glasses or contact lenses!

The website below is a directory of eye doctors who offer LASIK surgery throughout the US:

For a complete anatomy of the eye, try:

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