What Is LASIK?Author: Dr. William Tullo
January 14, 2014
Of the 57 percent of Americans who wear glasses, Gallup estimates 40 percent have considered LASIK. But just a fraction move beyond consideration to actually researching, “What is LASIK?”
What Is LASIK?
LASIK is an eye surgery that corrects nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism—all of which are often caused by a focusing errors that can be corrected by changing the shape of the cornea . (A cornea can be too steep causing nearsightedness, too flat causing farsightedness or football-shaped causing astigmatism.)
To reshape the cornea, a LASIK surgeon creates a protective flap of tissue in the outer layer of cornea and uses a laser to remove microscopic cells in the layer beneath. After just a few minutes, the surgeon is done and puts the flap back in place, which acts like a bandage as the patient’s eyes heal. In the months following LASIK eye surgery, the patient sees with improved vision.
Where did LASIK originate?
LASIK has an accidental history, like that of penicillin. IBM researchers working with a new type of laser in the 1980s realized they could carve animal tissue without damaging the tissue. Eye researchers further developed the use of this laser in the ‘80s and ‘90s to the point they could safely use the laser’s unique non-tissue-harming trait to reshape corneas. Across the globe, eye doctors improved on each other’s work, until LASIK was born.
What is LASIK today? It’s the world’s most common elective surgical procedure.
How do I get LASIK?
LASIK starts with a consultation. You can get one for free at a reputable physician. At your consultation, an optometrist will help answer your questions about LASIK and help determine if you’re a candidate for LASIK.. If you’re a good candidate, you can decide the best way to pay for LASIK (e.g., savings, credit card, financing) and schedule your procedure.
In 2013, the national average price of LASIK was about $2,000 per eye. This price reflects the most advanced LASIK surgery, called Custom Bladeless LASIK.
Non-customized, traditional (i.e., bladed) options are also still available, but Custom Bladeless LASIK tends to deliver the best and safest results. Many surgeons who offer Custom Bladeless LASIK, choose this technology since it offers the safest method to provide the best vision when performing LASIK surgery.
There are ways to make LASIK affordable, such as through financing plans and discounted rates for insurance holders, which you should explore if you’re seriously considering LASIK. You can ask more about these during your consultation.