What is LASIK?


What Is LASIK?

If you currently wear glasses or contact lenses and have been considering permanent vision correction, chances are you’ve heard of LASIK.

LASIK surgery is a procedure meant to correct common refractive errors. LASIK, which stands for “laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis”, is one of the most common forms of laser vision correction in the world. If you are looking for a quick, permanent solution to blurry vision, LASIK may be for you.

What Does LASIK Treat?

LASIK surgery treats common refractive errors like myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), and astigmatism. Certain types of LASIK surgery can correct presbyopia. Refractive errors are caused by a misshapen cornea.

How Does It Work?

Your eyes see clearly when light is properly “refracted” onto the retina. This means that light needs to be completely focused on the retina for clear, crisp vision. There are two structures responsible for focusing the light that comes through the eye: the cornea and the lens. The cornea is the clear, dome-shaped outer surface of the eye. The lens is located behind the iris and pupil. When your cornea is misshapen, it can cause poor light focus and blurry vision. This is what causes refractive errors like nearsightedness!

LASIK surgery reshapes the cornea to improve the way light focuses onto the retina. To accomplish this, your surgeon will create a “corneal flap” using a highly specialized laser. Next, they will use an excimer laser to remove microscopic amounts of corneal tissue, effectively reshaping the cornea. The way your cornea is reshaped depends on corneal topography measurements, which are taken before surgery. Corneal topography makes LASIK extremely accurate and effective, as the treatment is customized to each patient’s eye.

Who Is a Candidate?

LASIK is popular, but it isn’t for everyone. LASIK is very low risk for people who are screened properly, but can present a higher risk of complication for people who are not good candidates. For this reason, LASIK surgeons are picky about who they operate on. To be a good candidate for LASIK, you must meet the following criteria:

  • Over the age of 18
  • Overall in good health with no underlying conditions that could interfere with surgery (such as diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis)
  • Not pregnant or nursing
  • No previous eye injury or disease
  • Stable glasses or contact lens prescription for at least one year

There may be other requirements depending on your surgeon. Before scheduling your surgery, your doctor will perform a thorough eye examination to make sure your eyes can handle surgery, and to make sure your eyes are healthy. If you turn out not to be a LASIK candidate, your doctor can recommend other vision correction procedures.

What is PRK?

PRK, which stands for “photorefractive keratectomy”, is another refractive procedure that reshapes the cornea to reduce or eliminate dependence on glasses and contact lenses. It uses the same corneal topography and excimer laser technology as LASIK does but reshapes the cornea from the surface instead of creating a corneal flap. Although there is a longer healing process with PRK, long term visual outcomes are similar to LASIK.

Sometimes your doctor may recommend PRK instead of LASIK, so schedule a consultation today if you’d like to learn more.

Interested in surgery? If you are tired of living with glasses and contact lenses, LASIK or PRK may be right for you. Contact North Idaho Eye Institute in Coeur D’Alene or Post Falls to schedule a LASIK consultation.