LASIK is the most popular laser eye treatment method, routinely performed throughout the world. LASIK is carried out without the need for a general anaesthetic, as eye drops are all that’s required to prevent any pain during the treatment.
Your eye surgeon delicately creates a thin layer of corneal tissue on the front of the eye. This layer, the corneal flap, is then lifted to expose the middle section of the cornea. The laser treatment is then applied to remove a pre-calculated amount of corneal tissue, and the flap is gently eased back into place. Treatment is usually performed on both eyes on the same visit, and you will be in the treatment room for about 20 minutes.
How the LASIK procedure works
LASIK is performed while the patient reclines under a surgical device called an excimer laser in an outpatient surgical suite. First, the eye is numbed with a few drops of topical anesthetic. An eyelid holder is placed between the eyelids to keep them open and prevent the patient from blinking. A suction ring placed on the eye lifts and flattens the cornea and helps keep the eye from moving. The patient may feel pressure from the eyelid holder and suction ring, similar to a finger pressed firmly on the eyelid.
From the time the suction ring is put on the eye until it is removed, vision appears dim or goes black. Once the cornea is flattened, a hinged flap of corneal tissue is created using an automated microsurgical device, either a laser or blade. This corneal flap is lifted and folded back. Then the excimer laser preprogrammed with the patient’s unique eye measurements is centered above the eye.
The surgeon checks that the laser is positioned correctly. The patient looks at a special pinpoint light, called a fixation or target light, while the excimer laser sculpts the corneal tissue. Then the surgeon places the flap back into position and smoothes the edges. The corneal flap sticks to the underlying corneal tissue within two to five minutes, and stitches are not needed.
The patient should plan to have someone drive him or her home after the procedure and then take a nap or relax. To help protect the cornea as it heals, the surgeon may place a transparent shield over the eye(s) to protect against accidental bumps and to remind the patient not to rub the eye(s). The patient may need to wear the shield only when sleeping. The surgeon will provide eye drops to help the eye heal and relieve dryness. It may take three to six months after LASIK surgery for the improvements in a person’s vision to fully stabilize and any side effects to go away.