by John W. French, MD
Tired of wearing eyeglasses or contact lenses? Wish you could see the time on the alarm clock in the morning? You may wonder whether laser-assisted in-situ keratomileusis (LASIK) surgery is right for you.
LASIK surgery is a type of corneal refractive eye surgery that is designed to correct vision problems and reduce the need for glasses or contact lenses. LASIK surgery is most appropriate for people who have a moderate degree of nearsightedness (myopia), farsightedness (hyperopia) or astigmatism which causes blurry vision. The LASIK candidate is 18 years old or older; has healthy corneas; and has not experienced a significant prescription change within the last year.
During LASIK, an eye surgeon uses a highly-focused femtosecond laser to create a tiny flap in the cornea. The surgeon pulls back the flap to expose the underlying corneal tissue. Using the precision of an excimer laser, the eye surgeon contours the shape of the cornea with the goal of enabling light to properly focus on the retina. The flap is then laid back in place where the corneal tissue was removed.
Originally, a blade was used to make this flap, but the femtosecond laser has improved the safety and precision of the surgery. LASIK is a two-step vision correction procedure performed on the cornea. The Wavelight FS 200 Femtosecond Laser creates the thin flap of the cornea in the first step and the Allegretto WAVE Eye-Q excimer laser then reshapes the central cornea before the flap is repositioned.
LASIK surgery can help decrease the need for glasses after cataract surgery as well. Patients who had cataract surgery before advanced technology lenses were made available in the U.S. or chose not to have advanced technology cataract surgery typically need glasses for many activities. To reduce the need for glasses in these patients, LASIK surgery can be performed after cataract surgery.
Presbyopia is a condition where the natural lens inside the eye loses its ability to “zoom in” or accommodate while reading. This generally occurs in the mid-40s and progresses with age. There are two options with LASIK surgery. Some people choose to have both eyes set to see well for distance without glasses and wear reading glasses for near. Others choose to have one eye set to see well for distance without glasses and the other eye for near without glasses. This is called monovision and LASIK surgery can be performed in these patients to minimize the need for glasses.
In addition to LASIK surgery, PRK (photorefractive keratectomy) is also a type of refractive surgery to correct myopia, hyperopia and astigmatism. Though PRK recovery takes a bit longer, PRK is still performed and offers advantages over LASIK for some patients.
Dr. French is a cornea, cataract and LASIK Specialist at Carolina Eye Associates. For more information, call 800-733-9355 or visit www.carolinaeye.com.