Vision plays a very important role in our daily lives. From the time we wake up in the morning until we hit the bed at night, we use our eyes in everything that we do. As such, impaired vision caused by certain eye conditions can hamper our daily activities.
It is a relief that technological advancements in medical sciences introduced an effective permanent fix for such conditions. This procedure does not rely on artificial lenses like eyeglasses and contact lenses. Rather, it corrects the natural lens on the actual eye itself.
LASIK Surgery Explained
In a nutshell, LASIK is a refractive eye surgery that makes use of laser technology to carry out the procedure. Like any other refractive surgeries, it aims to make necessary corrections on the cornea- the eye’s lens- to achieve its ideal shape.
If a person’s cornea is too flat, he may not see close objects clearly. This is a condition known as hyperopia or farsightedness. On the other hand, a person whose cornea is steeper than normal has a condition medically referred to as myopia or shortsightedness. Hence, he may have trouble with objects from afar. Meanwhile, one other common eye condition is astigmatism. People with astigmatism have an irregularly shape cornea.
During the operation, the surgeon uses an Excimer laser to reshape the cornea. This is achieved by causing excess tissues of the cornea to evaporate due to the gentle heat of the focused laser.
Risks and Limitations
Not everyone who wishes to undergo LASIK surgery is fit for the operation. Considerations are taken into account to determine if one is a suitable candidate or not.
Prior to the surgery, a trained eye doctor will examine and evaluate the overall health of the patient as certain conditions may disqualify a patient. For instance, patients with relatively dry eyes may not go through this operation because the laser can further aggravate the situation. This may do more harm than good.
The same can be true for people with unusually thin cornea because this limitation increases the risks of over- or under-correction. Furthermore, pregnant women may not be exposed to lasers, so this procedure does not suit them, either.
Some of the potential side-effects of a laser eye surgery includes seeing halos around images, dry eyes, glare, fluctuating vision and difficulty driving at night. Most of these are just temporary conditions, though, while the eye is in the process of recovery. After a several weeks, the patient’s eyesight should have already recovered to its normal state. Otherwise, you must consult an expert for possible enhancement surgery.
The preoperative consultations are designed to increase the chances of a successful treatment and optimize its results at the same time. Identifying the patient’s anatomical state is essential in finalizing the details of the operation. This includes distinguishing the areas that need remolding, the thinness or thickness of tissues that must be removed, and the type of LASIK surgery to use among others.
During this time, the ophthalmologist may perform a comprehensive laser eye surgery exam. This typically includes exams that you might have already recognized, such as prescription measurement and pupil dilation. However, there are other tests that could be specific to laser vision correction like measuring the curvature, topography and thickness of your cornea. A tear-film test is also possible to check potentially dry eyes. Before performing any of these exams, the doctor will explain the process and its importance. All of these pre-surgical tests are painless.
Likewise, the doctor will also make his patient understand the real score of the operation, the likelihood of its results, the potential risks that come with it and the patient’s responsibilities before, during and after the operation. This is also the best time for patients to ask any questions related to the procedure.
The success of the surgery does not end on the actual operation. In order to achieve the most ideal results, the patient must also be accountable in heeding the doctor’s prescription.
While laser eye surgeries are undeniably effective, complications are not unheard of. Rare cases of infection and unimproved vision were recorded. This can be attributed to the patient’s negligence when it comes to postoperative care among other factors.
What to Expect after the Surgery?
It is normal to feel slight discomfort after the operation. An eye drop causes the muscles in your eyes to feel numb during the operation so you do not feel pain. After the medicine has subsided, you start feeling the soreness. Just let it be. The eye is in its natural course of healing. Fight the urge to rub your eyes.
Dry eyes are also to be expected. This is because the natural moisture of the eyes was affected by the laser used during the operation. For this reason, your doctor will give you prescription eye drops. This can also help prevent inflammation and infection. An important caution: never use eye drops that are not approved by an eye doctor.
Healing is relatively rapid with LASIK compared to other methods of eye surgery. Although vision could be hazy and blurry in a day or two, patients will see improvements in the next few days.
Lifestyle Changes and Precautions
One good thing about LASIK eye surgery is that there are no massive changes in lifestyle. A few precautions will be in place to help the eye recover faster, but the patients can resume regular activities in a matter of weeks or months.
Water, soap, hair spray and any other chemicals must not get into the eye. Hence, body bath is possible but showering is discouraged. Washing the hair is possible but the head must be tilted backward to let the water run down to the back.
Protective goggles must be worn. Dirty and dusty environment must be avoided, too. You can resume driving as soon as you feel comfortable and with the doctor’s approval. Gardening, lifting, running and other physically strenuous activities must be avoided to avoid straining the eye muscles.
Makeup should not be worn at least a week following the surgery. Partially used makeup must be discarded to avoid any contamination of bacteria.
Most importantly, visit your doctor regularly. Normally, you have to return to the clinic within 24 to 48 hours after the operation for evaluations. Then, regular checkups follow at regular intervals depending on the surgeon for the next six months.