Lasik is a type of laser eye surgery which is believed to correct vision by the use of laser technology. It is very popular around world since it can correct common side effects like myopia, astigmatism and hypermetropia. The reason why this is popular is because once eyesight is corrected with this method a person does not have to wear glasses or contact lenses again
Millions of surgeries have been conducted all around world using this procedure and it has been recorded as one of the most popular surgeries in the United States.
Lasik technology was first developed in the 1950s by Jose Barraquer from Columbia who used to work on the cornea in order to alter its shape. This was followed by radial keratotomy and implantable eye contact lenses in the 1980s. The first laser eye surgery was performed in 1989 by B.MacDonald. Summit Technology founded by Dr David Muller was the first organization to receive FDA approval for laser surgery. Soon other companies followed and went on to make laser surgery are very popular form of treatment for the eyes.
In the 1990s, laser technology became very advanced with the inclusion of faster lasers enabling treatment in larger spot areas and an improvement in the techniques that were used. The American National Standards Institute standardized the shaping of the cornea particularly the planning and analysis of the techniques being used including Lasik. The most common technique creates a thin layer on the eye and folds it so that the tissue can be remodeled with the help of a laser and then the layer is repositioned.
Actions Before The Surgery
Many people who wear contact lenses resort to this type of surgery. They need to stop wearing lenses three weeks before surgery and five days prior to the surgery they have to stop wearing them completely. Those who wear hard contact lenses must not wear them for six weeks and an additional six weeks for every three years that they have been wearing those contacts.
In order for the cornea to function properly it has to be transparent and oxygen is absorbed from the tear film. Contact lenses reduce the oxygen being absorbed by the cornea it can result in a condition in which the blood vessels start growing into the cornea. This is a major cause of pain for those undergoing the surgery because of inflammation that is caused.
A thorough examination of the patient is conducted prior to the surgery especially with papillary dilation and the cornea is examined with the help of a pachymeter for ascertaining the thickness. A corneal topographic machine is also used for gauging the contour. Once this is done the topographic map is produced of the cornea and it is thoroughly analyzed. The information is then used to find out how much corneal tissue can be removed. An antibiotic has to be consumed before the surgery to reduce any risk of infection. During the examination if a person is found to have very dry eyes, or large pupils, then he is told that the surgery cannot be conducted.
At the beginning of the operation the eye is put into place with the help of a soft ring and it is very common to have some bleeding at this stage. This is nothing to worry about because it is harmless and becomes alright in a few weeks. It may also result in a slight dimming of vision of the eye that is being treated. Once the eye is in place and is immobilized a flap is created with the help of a metal blade or a laser that is able to form corneal bubbles. The flap is folded and at that time the person can feel some discomfort.
In the second step the corneal stroma is remodeled with the help of a laser. Several layers of tissue are removed and the process of improving the eyes is started. At the second stage the flap is lifted and the person may have slightly blurry vision. Once the stromal layer has been reshaped the flap is repositioned. A check is conducted for bubbles and any unwanted material inside the eye.
In terms of medicines the patients have to consume antibiotics and apply eye drops to prevent inflammation after the surgery has been completed. Complete rest is advised and the patient is given instructions to wear dark eyeglasses. He should not look at bright lights nor rub his eyes. The eyes have to be frequently moisturized with special drops that are prescribed by the surgeon.
Other Types of Surgery
Wavefront Lasik - In this type of surgery Wavelength laser is used in which the patient?s glasses or contact lenses are taken into account. Corneal curvature and thickness is also considered and the treatment applies laser therapy in a unique manner in the cornea periphery. This reduces many complications such as a halo, glare and other aberrations which are bound to occur in various forms of eye treatments.
A special mapping is carried out before the surgery so that any aberrations in the patient?s optical framework are identified. In case they are found to be very severe it means that the quality of vision including sensitivity to contrast can be affected. This is where Wavefront treatment can be used for which a special wavefront mapping is done.
Advanced surface ablation - Excimer laser is used to do the thorough reshaping of the cornea similar to Lasik but the only differences that a flap is not created. It involves removing the most superficial layer of cornea and then Excimer laser ablation is carried out.
Conductive keratoplasty - this is a technique used commonly for correcting hyperopia and presbyopia and involves radiofrequency waves in the cornea which causes shrinkage in the periphery of the cornea. The only flipside of this procedure is that it is not a long-term treatment but it is very safe.
Intra-corneal ring segments - this is used for correcting mild myopia and segments are implanted in the cornea's periphery so that it makes it flat in the centre. The rings can be removed later and the effect can be reversed. This treatment is not as popular as Lasik and this also much slower.
Risks of Lasik
Lasik is extremely effective and most patients have had their vision corrected successfully with this procedure. But Lasik also has its own risks some of which are as follows:
1. While the majority of patients are quite happy with the treatment there are some cases where the surgery needs be followed up with the second one called an enhancement that is used to sharpen the vision. This cannot take place immediately but the patient has to wait for several months so that the eye heals properly after the surgery. In case the surgeon finds that you cornea is too thin or has been shaped in a peculiar manner then the enhancement may not be possible.
2. In some cases contact lenses or glasses are still needed even after the surgery is carried out because the patient finds that he has to use it in order to gain optimum vision. However, this is very rare and in case the patient finds something like this is should immediately contact the surgeon. Once the patient undergoes a normal ageing then he may need glasses in any case.
3. There are examples of lowlight aberrations which happen because the quality of vision has decreased after surgery. They may also be fluctuation in eyesight during the day and during different days and the person may find that is becoming very sensitive to light and cannot face glare. He may also see halos forming around light sources.
4. A common complaint is that of very dry eyes after surgery. In some cases these become more severe and may also result in redness or burning, or a reduction in vision of the surgery. Unfortunately, this can be permanent and requires long-term medication.
5. The worst kind of risk of the surgery is that vision may be lost in some cases due to complications during surgery or infection, or might be due to major changes in the shape of the cornea after the operation.
How to Start
If you are looking at availing of Lasik surgery, you must obtain detailed information about your surgery and the type of surgery that you need. It is better to find out how the surgery will be conducted, the type of laser that is going to be used et cetera. Most importantly, you must get the Lasik surgery carried out by a surgeon who is well qualified and has extensive experience.
You will be able to find qualified surgeons in your city or you can ask for a recommendation from your doctor. You must remember that it is a surgery that will have permanent effects and will alter your vision forever.
Advantages of Lasik Surgery
It is very safe and very effective in a majority of cases. It is dependent on the effective screening of patients and the operation has to be carried out by an experienced surgeon. The procedure can correct myopia, hyperopia and astigmatism. Besides, it only lasts about 10 minutes and involves very less pain. The advantage of laser technology being used is that it is very accurate and there are very less chances of it going wrong. Also, it is very rare that a second surgery has to be conducted and a single surgery will suffice in most cases.
Disadvantages of Lasik Surgery
The most common complaint is that of dryness in eyes which may become worse in a few cases. Though it is very rare Lasik can make vision worse in some people especially night vision and cause people to see halos around light. Results of surgery can be very varied depending upon the condition of the patient.
How much does Lasik cost?
Although there is no fixed answer to this question you can assume a wide range starting from $ 300-$ 5000 per eye. The average cost of blade less Lasik which is preferred due to safety is about $ 2000 per eye. Please note that the surgery is always conducted for one eye. Hence if the price of $ 2000 is quoted to you, it means that the cost is for the surgery of one eye. If you find that the cost of $ 300 is very low it means that something may be amiss. Usually several other costs get added on once you establish contact with the eye center.
You must look for prices that are all-inclusive which means that it should take care of expenses that involve pre-operative and post-operative treatments. This would include consultation and eye measurements before the surgery. After the surgery is over you should be able to avail of consultation for one year. Also, eye drops and enhancements can also be included. You must find out all the details that are included in the cost before opting for the surgery from a particular center.
Your location also plays a part in deciding the cost of surgery. Usually, the smaller cities have a low-cost than the bigger cities like New York et cetera. Another important factor that influences cost is the experience of the surgeon because with good experience comes skills which go a long way in making sure that the surgery is successful and that the patient is happy with his restored vision. The technology that is used is also included in the cost and custom blade less Lasik is very popular and expensive. Blade less laser surgery is extremely popular since the flap is created without a blade. This procedure is extremely accurate and is considered safer
You will get an idea of how much Lasik costs once you shop around and find out all details of what is included in the cost from different places, also considering the kind of experience of the surgeon and the technology that is being used.