What is LASIK?
LASIK is a modern medical miracle. For millions of people destined to wear contacts and glasses, LASIK can result in visual freedom and crystal clear 20/20 vision – or better – for some patients. LASIK addresses the cause of poor vision by using cool lasers to correct the irregularities of the cornea.
NASA has approved the use of advanced all-laser LASIK as safe and reliable enough for astronauts, and the U.S. Navy has also specified advanced all-laser LASIK for its fighter pilots. These two official recognitions of the safety and reliability of LASIK are very reassuring for anyone who may be hesitant about having LASIK.
How LASIK Works
There are three main parts to the human eye:
In normal vision, the cornea refracts (bends) light so it can be directed correctly through the lens and onto the retina.
Vision problems are usually the result of disorders or irregularities of the shape of the cornea. LASIK can solve these problems by using cool lasers to reshape the curve of the cornea so you can have normal, clear vision.
What Vision Problems can LASIK Solve?
Astigmatism is the inability to focus clearly at any distance because the cornea is shaped more like a football than a basketball. LASIK corrects this oval shape, making the cornea more round.
Nearsighted people see close objects clearly – but not distant objects. In nearsightedness, the curve of the cornea is too steep, and images are focused in front of the retina. LASIK corrects this condition by flattening the curve of the cornea.
Farsighted people see distant objects clearly, but all other objects are blurred. In farsightedness the shape of the cornea is too flat, and light rays are focused behind the retina. LASIK corrects this condition by shaping the cornea so that it focuses correctly.
Sometime between age 40 and 50, the typical person will begin to need reading glasses whether they have had LASIK or not. This condition is called presbyopia: the loss of the ability to see up close due to the natural stiffening of the eyes’ lenses. This need for reading glasses can often be greatly reduced through a technique known as Monovision LASIK that has successfully given thousands of patients the ability to see both close up and far away.
3 Steps to 20/20 Vision
- The first step of a LASIK procedure is the creation of the corneal flap, which is a thin segment of the outer layer of the cornea. This step can be performed with an instrument called a microkeratome, or with a special laser called the IntraLase™ laser.
- Next, an excimer laser is used to re-shape the underlying corneal tissue to correct any irregularities. We use state-of-the-art laser technology with the VISX™ Star S4 laser with ActiveTrak™ three-dimensional eye tracking to make sure you get the best possible results. This step in Custom LASIK is based on an individual 3D map taken of the eye, so the most precise corrections are possible.
- Finally, the flap is folded back into place where it bonds quickly. Healing is rapid and most people can return to work the next day.
How Long Does LASIK Take? Will it Hurt?
The actual LASIK procedure takes just minutes per eye. You can expect to feel only slight discomfort and perhaps just the slightest sensation of pressure. Inserting or removing contact lenses – or just rubbing tired eyes from wearing glasses – may produce more discomfort than your LASIK procedure.