That is the question, or rather the answer.
If you’ve ever considered LASIK surgery to reduce or eliminate the need for contact lenses or glasses, you likely have A LOT of questions and we are here to answer them.
So, let’s start with the basics.
What is LASIK?
LASIK stands for Laser-Assisted In-Situ Keratomileusis and is designed to permanently change the shape of the cornea (the clear covering of the front of the eye). Around 10 million Americans have had LASIK since it was first approved by the FDA in 1999. Around 700,000 surgeries are done each year, which is down from its peak of 1.4 million in 2007. It continues to be one of the most popular elective surgeries in the country and continues to have very high satisfaction rates among patients.
LASIK treats three refractive errors.
- Near-sightedness, or myopia: Objects appear clearer at near but blurry at a distance.
- Far-sightedness, or hyperopia: Objects appear clearer at distance but blurry at near.
- Astigmatism: When the cornea is shaped more like a football than a basketball which causes objects at both near and distance to appear distorted. The more astigmatism you have, the more football-shaped your cornea is.
What Does LASIK Surgery Involve?
Once you have come in for a free screening followed by a through and complete work-up, you will be scheduled for your surgery. Once you’re in the laser suite and have been properly prepped, your surgery will begin. Dr. Burns will create a very thin, superficial flap on the front surface of your cornea with a femtosecond laser. He will fold the flap back to access the underlying corneal tissue. At this point, an excimer laser precisely removes small amounts of tissue in order to reshape the cornea. After the treatment is finished, the flap is repositioned to its original position and smoothed out. All in all, the procedure itself lasts less than 10 minutes per eye.
While the ultimate goal is to eliminate contacts and glasses completely, there is never a guarantee that you will never need glasses or contact lenses again. According to a previous study by the Mayo Clinic, more than 80% of people can ditch glasses or contacts completely. Newer technology that allows Customized LASIK increases this number to over 95%. However, LASIK just changes the shape of the cornea. It does not change the natural aging process that your eyes will go through as you age, which could mean a change in vision in the future.
As with any surgery, LASIK can have some post-surgical risks which can include but is not limited to dry eyes or glare and halos around lights at night. The risks can last anywhere from a week or so up to a few months. More serious risks can include infection or retinal detachments, but these risks are quite rare.