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LASIK Information

On this page:
Intro to LASIK
Candidate for LASIK
How LASIK works
ADVANTAGES OF LASIK
LASIK pre-op instructions
LASIK post-op instructions
Treatment cornea relaxing incisions
Cornea wedge resection
On other pages:
PRK
Lasik facts
Colorado wavefront lasik surgery
Colorado wavefront lasik surgery
LASIK surgery
LASIK facts
Benefits
Colorado lasik vision correction
Lasik surgery Health Conditions

LASIK eye surgery

LASIK eye surgery has rapidly changed the way millions of people see the world since 1997. It is estimated that over three million LASIK eye surgeries have been performed since then, making it possible for almost anyone with poor vision to greatly improve the quality of their life through this sought-after surgery.

How LASIK Eye Surgery Works

Laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis, (a.k.a. LASIK eye surgery) is a type of refractive surgery that increases the eye's natural ability to see by altering the shape of the cornea. For the first step in LASIK eye surgery, the surgeon will use an instrument called a microkeratome to create a very thin, circular flap in the patient's cornea. By folding this flap of tissue back, the surgeon is able to use an excimer laser to remove tiny pieces of the corneal tissue until the cornea is shaped just right. The laser, which will be guided by a computerized fingerprint of your eye, has a cool, precise beam that can easily slice off millimeters of tissue. Since the cornea is the part of your eye that reflects and focuses light back to your retina, your vision can be greatly improved when it is re-shaped correctly through LASIK eye surgery.

LASIK eye surgery is able to improve both nearsighted and farsighted vision. For patients with nearsighted vision, the LASIK eye surgeon's goal is to flatten a cornea that is too steep. For patients who suffer from farsightedness, the LASIK eye surgery will be used to create a steeper corneal shape. If a patient has vision problems due to astigmatism, LASER eye surgery can also be used to smooth out any irregular spots on the cornea to improve eyesight.

The Many Benefits of LASIK Eye Surgery

There are numerous benefits to having LASIK eye surgery if you have poor natural vision that requires you to wear contacts or glasses. After the surgery is over and your eyes are healed, you will be able to see just as well or better than you did with glasses or contacts and you'll be free of the associated hassles. You won't be required to drive with glasses or contacts anymore and you can play sports or enjoy other outdoor activities that were once difficult to participate in.

In addition to the convenience of hassle-free eyesight, LASIK eye surgery patients can also use the surgery as a means to open up career opportunities that were once off-limits for those with poor vision. Some of these career paths include becoming a military or commercial airline pilot. Military servicemen are also able to extend their careers beyond the normal timeframe when they are approved for LASIK eye surgery.

Whatever your motivation is for getting LASIK eye surgery, the results are sure to greatly improve your vision and your quality of life.


INTRODUCTION - LASER ASSISTED in-SITU KERATOMILEUSIS (LASIK)
Since the late 1970's incisional (with a surgeon's scalpel refractive surgery (RK) has treated nearsightedness and astigmatism in patients all over the world. The optimum candidate for RK; however, is the person with low to moderate amounts of refractive error. LASIK combines the precision of the modern excimer laser system (PRK) with the benefits of Lamellar Keratoplasty (LK) which has been used historically to treat a wide range of more complicated refractive errors. LASIK has two principal advantages over RK and PRK. It can treat a much wider range of refractive errors and the postoperative recovery time is greatly decreased. For the right candidate, LASIK is a new horizon in vision correction.



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Candidate for LASIK surgery
In the broadest terms, a candidate for successful LASIK should be at least 18 years of age, have an eyeglass prescription which has been stable for at least one year, have healthy eyes which are free from hereditary or acquired diseases and have realistic expectations for laser-refractive surgery and its ability to reduce or eliminate the need for glasses or contacts. These guidelines ensure that only those patients for whom laser-assisted in-situ keratomileusis (LASIK) is most appropriate will consider proceeding with this treatment.



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How LASIK works
Laser-assisted in-situ keratomileusis is a surgical procedure, which precisely reshapes the cornea surface. First, a thin layer of the corneal, or the corneal cap, is lifted up as an instrument called a microkeratome glides across the cornea. Then, in less than 60 seconds, ultraviolet light and high energy pulses from the excimer laser reshape the internal cornea. With computer accuracy, the procedure treats moderate to high levels of nearsightedness and moderate amounts of farsightedness and astigmatism. After the internal corneal tissue has been reshaped, the corneal cap is then repositioned to its original position. Because of the cornea's extraordinary natural bonding qualities, healing is rapid and does not usually require stitches.

In most cases, LASIK is performed as an outpatient procedure in less than 30 minutes. The procedure is performed with the comfort of "eye drop" anesthesia. Patients usually return to their normal activities within a day or two.



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ADVANTAGES OF LASIK
Many patients considering refractive surgery are interested in comparing the advantages of laser-assisted in-situ keratomileusis (LASIK) over excimer laser surgery (PRK) alone. In PRK, the surface remodeling, with the laser, of the corneal epithelium (front surface layer) can cause significant corneal compromise. In LASIK, the corneal epithelium remains intact. This results in a much faster recovery, a smoother corneal surface and better optical quality. The LASIK procedure also has a reduced risk of infection with less need for potentially hazardous prophylactic steroids. In addition, LASIK has a much greater range of vision correction.



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LASIK Pre op instructions
Unless previously instructed otherwise, do not wear soft contact lenses ONE WEEK prior to your surgery; do not wear hard or gas permeable contact lenses TWO WEEKS prior to your surgery. There are no restrictions on eating, drinking, or taking medication prior to surgery, other than avoiding alcohol and any medication that may produce drowsiness. Wear comfortable clothing and do not wear eye make-up. It is required that all patients bring a driver or arrange for alternate transportation. Please plan for a recovery time of at least one hour following the procedure.



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LASIK Post op instructions
Laser-assisted in-situ keratomileusis takes approximately 10 minutes to complete. You will be allowed to leave shortly following surgery. Please arrange for a family member or a friend to drive you home following surgery. Upon arriving at home, you may wish to take a nap to allow your eye to begin healing while you remain comfortable.

Generally, you may repeat pain medications every four hours as needed. A cold compress on a closed eye may help relieve the initial discomfort. The morning following LASIK surgery, you may notice some residual eye sensitivity. Avoid touching your eye. It is not uncommon for vision to be somewhat blurred at this stage. Redness and irritation will generally resolve upon the use of the recommended eye drops. It is expected that your vision will fluctuate during the first few weeks. Keep your eye clean and avoid eye makeup and swimming for two weeks.

It is also suggested that you wear sunglasses, as needed. Do not participate in contact sports until advised and as a general caution, you should always use protective eye wear for racquet sports and similar activities. Call our office immediately if you experience unusual pain after 24 hours. If your eye is irritated or has a discharge or if you experience any rapid changes in vision.



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Cornea relaxing incisions
A clear corneal transplant must have a smooth dome-like contour in order to achieve the best possible vision after transplantation surgery. The contour of the cornea may be affected by sutures that remain in place, holding the transplanted tissue in position. Also affecting this critical contour is the final healing process of the individual patient. These components combine to induce astigmatism, or an uneven curvature to the corneal transplant surface. Small amounts of astigmatism may be corrected with glasses or contact lenses. With higher amounts of astigmatism, more complex efforts must be made to correct the surface distortions.

The first step in reducing unwanted astigmatism may be the removal of remaining sutures in the corneal transplant. Initially, this may be done one at a time in a selective fashion. Each suture affects the curvature of the transplant and therefore affects the astigmatism and the related refraction (eyeglass prescription).

Despite careful suture removal, some transplants are left with an unacceptable degree of astigmatism. In this case, incisions can carefully be made on the surface of the cornea to "relax" the areas of distortion in the tissue. This process may also require the selective addition of several sutures to augment the effect of the relaxing incisions. The goal is to make the corneal transplant more round and spherical in order to improve vision.

Recovery from such incisions may take time for the healing process to stabilize. Some of the newly-placed sutures may be temporary and require removal during the postoperative period. It is anticipated that there will be an improvement in corneal astigmatism and an improvement in vision, which can be achieved through your corneal transplant.



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Cornea wedge resection
A clear corneal transplant must have a smooth dome-like contour in order to achieve the best possible vision after transplantation surgery. The contour of the cornea may be affected by sutures that remain in place, holding the transplanted tissue in position. Also affecting this critical contour is the final healing process of the individual patient. These components combine to induce astigmatism, or an uneven curvature to the corneal transplant surface. Small amounts of astigmatism may be corrected with glasses or contact lenses. With higher amounts of astigmatism, more complex efforts must be made to correct the surface distortions.

Despite careful suture removal, some corneal transplants are left with an unacceptable high degree of astigmatism. In this case, a "wedge resection" may be considered to restore the areas of tissue distortion. This surgery removes a microscopic wedge of excess tissue from around the transplanted cornea. The goal is to make the transplant more round and spherical in order to improve vision.

Recovery from a wedge resection is slow and will take months for the healing process to stabilize. Some of the placed sutures are temporary and require removal during the postoperative period. It is anticipated that there will be an eventual improvement in corneal astigmatism and an improvement in vision, which can be achieved through your corneal transplant.



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