Laser Eye Surgery – What is Lasik?

Lasik laser eye treatment – short for Laser In-Keratomileusis – is the surgery of the eye, through use of lasers, to correct vision. In most instances eyesight is restored sufficiently to negate the need for glasses or contact lenses.

Who is a suitable candidate for Lasik?

It is unsafe for surgery to be carried out on patients with eye disorders or diseases. The biggest factors, however, in whether an individual is suitable for Lasik surgery are the age of the patient and the severity of their long or shortsightedness.

Under the age of 21 the vision may still be experiencing changes which would render the results of Lasik surgery very short lived. After this age, vision becomes more stable and any deterioration or improvement in the sight should not be so marked. However, once a person is approaching the age of 60 the rate of degeneration increases again, making laser eye surgery less feasible.

Surgery can be markedly less effective on patients whose eyesight is extremely poor. When making initial enquiries about undergoing Lasik, a doctor may  Visiclear advise that you are an unsuitable candidate if you are highly longsighted (+2 or greater) or extremely shortsighted (which is considered to be in excess of -8).

How is Lasik surgery performed?

When undergoing Lasik the patient’s eyelid is taped back to allow full access to the eye and prevent blinking, which may cause some discomfort to the patient. Surgery is performed by slicing a small flap in the cornea (which can cause temporary vision loss, which should not last more than 30 seconds). A pre-programmed laser meticulously reshapes the eye before the flap is replaced. The surgery should not be painful, but there is a slight smell of burning during the use of the laser, which can make it an unpleasant experience for the patient.

Post operatively, Lasik surgery patients generally experience little or no discomfort. Vision will be a little hazy and distorted for the first 48 hours but will vastly improve after this time, with the final effects of surgery becoming apparent within a month of the procedure being carried out. Eye drops are a necessity for the first 6 months after surgery as dry eyes are a side effect of all forms of laser eye treatments.

How effective is Lasik?

The statistics available for successful laser eye surgery – where ‘perfect’ vision is restored – are inconsistent, but it is believed that between 80 and 98% of patients’ vision improves to the extent where contact lenses or glasses are no longer required.

The effects of Lasik are permanent, although laser eye surgery cannot prevent the natural degeneration of eye sight which is a normal part of the ageing process. The results generally are more long lived in short sighted patients, who may benefit from many years of good eye sight before requiring glasses again. The outcome of surgery is usually initially good for long sighted patients, but deterioration can occur much more rapidly and glasses are often required after two years.

Is Lasik safe?

If vision is improved but contact lenses re still required, the lenses may be very uncomfortable for the first few months after surgery. Dryness – a common side effect of surgery – can also cause the eye to become sore while wearing contact lenses.

The most worrying, but statistically unlikely, risk associated with Lasik is that the cornea can become detached. There is a small risk of a post operative infection developing in the corneal flap.

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