LASIK (laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis) is the most commonly performed laser eye surgery to treat myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness) and astigmatism.
Like other types of laser refractive surgery, the LASIK procedure reshapes the front surface (cornea) of the eye to enable light entering the eye to focus on the retina without glasses or contact lenses.
LASIK typically is pain-free and requires only about 15 minutes to treat both eyes. Vision improvement is immediate and often stabilizes in as little as 24 hours.
There are three essential steps to a LASIK procedure:LASIK eye surgery: step-by-step
1. A mechanical surgical tool called a microkeratome or a femtosecond laser is used to create a thin, circular flap in the cornea. The surgeon then folds back this hinged flap to access the underlying cornea (called the stroma).
2. An excimer laser is used to reshape the corneal stroma. This highly specialized laser uses a cool ultraviolet light beam to remove ("ablate") microscopic amounts of tissue from the cornea to reshape it so it more accurately focuses light on the retina for improved vision.
3. The corneal flap is laid back in place, where it adheres to the corneal stroma without stitches.
Before LASIK - Your eye doctor will perform a thorough eye exam to determine if you are a good candidate for LASIK vision correction.
During this exam, the surface or your eye will be examined to make sure you have no unusual risk of dry eyes after LASIK.
An automated instrument called a corneal topographer will be used to create a detailed, point-by-point map of the shape of your cornea. An additional measurement called a wave front analysis of your cornea also may be performed to help you achieve the best LASIK outcome possible.
You should stop wearing contact lenses for a period of time advised by your doctor (typically at least two weeks prior to LASIK). This is important because contact lens wear can alter the natural shape of your cornea and could affect the outcome of your procedure.
During LASIK - Immediately before your LASIK surgery, numbing eye drops are applied to your eye to prevent any discomfort during the procedure. Your doctor may also give you some medication to help you relax.