This site offers in depth information on LASIK eye surgery, including: the procedure, its risks and its complications. Laser in-situ keratomileusis (LASIK) has been performed since 1991. LASIK represents the combination of two separate procedures:
1) Making the corneal flap.
This can be done with the traditional Microkeratome or a newer alternative called IntraLase.
A microkeratome, an automated microsurgical instrument similar in design to a carpenter’s plane, is used to create a thin corneal flap which remains hinged by the nose or beneath the upper eyelid. The corneal flap is 160 to 180 microns thick, about 30% the corneal thickness which is typically about 550 microns. The creation of corneal flaps has actually been performed for four decades providing us with a long history of safety and stability. Patients do not feel or see this procedure, which takes only a few seconds. This is done by placing a suction ring on the eye to secure the eye and maintain pressure within the eye while the corneal flap is created.
An eyelid holder is inserted to prevent blinking while the drops eliminate the reflex to blink. With LASIK, the epithelial layer is left intact, allowing for not only faster visual recovery but improved comfort and safety.
The IntraLase Method is a 100% blade-free approach to corneal flap creation; the critical first step in the LASIK procedure. This creation of the corneal flap prepares the eye for the second step of the LASIK procedure, when another laser, known as an excimer laser, is used on the inner cornea to correct vision.
Unlike other procedures, the IntraLase Method creates the corneal flap by applying tiny, rapid pulses of laser light; not a metal blade or microkeratome. Each pulse of light passes through the top layers of your cornea and forms a microscopic bubble at a specific depth and position within your eye that is determined by the doctor. As the IntraLase laser moves back and forth across your eye, a uniform layer of bubbles forms just below the corneal surface. Your doctor creates your corneal flap by gently separating the tissue where these bubbles have formed.
Because of the unique way in which the IntraLase Method creates a precisely positioned layer of bubbles just beneath the surface of your eye, it creates a smooth, even surface after your flap is lifted. The corneal flap is then folded back so the doctor can perform the second step of your LASIK treatment. Only your healthcare professional can determine if LASIK and the IntraLase Method or Microkeratome is right for you. As with all elective procedures, you should ask your doctor for a complete list of the risks and complications associated with LASIK and the IntraLase Method compared to the Microkeratome.
2) Sculpting the cornea under the flap with a laser.
In the second step, a cool laser beam sculpts the curvature of the exposed corneal by evaporating tissue with extreme accuracy. The excimer laser is so precise that each pulse can remove 39 millionths of an inch of tissue in 12 billionths of a second.
The LASIK Procedure
Utilizing the accuracy and precision of the excimer laser, LASIK changes the shape of the cornea to improve the way light is focused or “refracted” by the eye.
After the tissue has been reshaped, the flap is replaced in its original position. Because of the cornea’s extraordinary natural bonding qualities, healing is rapid and does not require stitches. LASIK is performed as an outpatient procedure in the comfort and convenience of the excimer surgical suite.
The entire procedure takes less than 30 minutes and both eyes are done the same day. The procedure is performed using “eye drop” anesthesia. Some patients report a slight, post-operative discomfort that can usually be alleviated with medications. Patients are always amazed at the ease of both these procedures because of their speed and comfort. Most patients return to their normal activities within a day or two.
An important note from Dr. Thompson:
See: Risks of Refractive Surgery. Remember surgery is surgery and all surgery has risks. This is not meant to discourage you but these are facts you should know if you plan to have surgery preformed. This office is extensively involved in refractive surgery and would be happy to meet with you and discuss your case. I have personally had refractive surgery. But, just because these risks were acceptable to me does not mean they will be acceptable to you. I strongly recommend you educate yourself prior to surgery and then consult a knowledgeable eye care provider to further guide you through the procedure and follow-up. Pre and post operative care is critical in maximizing your chance of a good outcome.
Our office policy is to educate our refractive surgery patients well enough that they have realistic expectations and know the risks before they commit to the surgery, we believe in informed consent. Once the decision is made, it is our goal to get that person to the best surgeon for the amount of money they want to spend.