How Does LASIK Eye Surgery Work?Author: Dr. William Tullo
April 15, 2014
LASIK eye surgery is a procedure that uses a skilled surgeon and a special laser to permanently change your vision without glasses or contact lenses, for the better.
LASIK eye surgery is a two-step process, beginning with a flap creation and concluding with the corneal reshaping. There are pre- and post-operative preparations cushioning these two steps, but these capture the basic idea of how LASIK eye surgery works.
Your cornea is a clear outer part of your eye. When your eye focuses light, the cornea is the first part of the eye that will intercept the light to start to bring it to a point of focus. Think of it like a window between you and the world. It is clear, and how it is shaped will affect how well you see.
Sometimes the shape of our corneas makes us see near or far objects blurrily. LASIK eye surgery is meant to reshape the cornea to improve how we see. This can leave us with corrected vision without the need for glasses and contact lenses.
To create the flap, your skilled surgeon will use either a laser or a microkeratome blade. The laser-created flap is considered more desirable by many surgeons because of its advantages, such as improved recovery time. You might hear this called “bladeless” or “all-laser” LASIK eye surgery.
Reshaping the cornea
All LASIK eye surgery providers use a special laser called an “excimer laser” to reshape your cornea. There are different brands, but the main idea is the same: The special thing about this laser is that it can reshape living tissue without causing any damage, such as scar tissue. The excimer laser was therefore a revolutionary device that began to gain popularity in the 1980s and 1990s once researchers learned its potential for human surgery.
During LASIK eye surgery, your skilled surgeon will use the excimer laser to remove microscopic corneal cells. These cells live underneath the corneal flap he has created and lifted. Because your surgeon will have taken in-depth measurements of your unique corneal topography during your consultation, he will have programmed the laser to remove cells in exactly the right places to correct your vision.
Life after LASIK eye surgery
When the laser reshaping is complete, your surgeon will replace your corneal flap, and healing begins. The flap usually heals itself over the following weeks. The first few hours after surgery can be somewhat uncomfortable while healing initiates, but most patients sleep these hours away while resting their eyes. Most patients feel fine the next day, can drive, and return to work. Discuss your early post-operative restrictions with your surgeon prior to surgery. Functional vision, or about 80 percent of vision, is common in the first few days after LASIK surgery.
At follow-up visits, your doctor will monitor your healing and he will measure your vision. Many patients achieve 20/20 or better vision. To learn how much LASIK eye surgery costs, click here.