LASIK eye surgery helps correct vision problems that are normally treated with glasses and lenses. LASIK stands for laser in-situ keratomileusis and this medical procedure uses a laser to correct the imperfect eye surface. It is one among the number of different surgical techniques used to alter the cornea. However in recent years, this procedure has become the most popular type of refractive eye surgery used to correct eyesight.
Laser Eye Surgery
Laser eye surgery involves reshaping the cornea, the transparent tissue, which covers the front part of the eye. The cornea helps control focusing and if it is not perfect, it can cause a vision that needs correction. During this surgery, surgeons cut across the cornea and raise a flap of tissue. The exposed surface is then reshaped using a computer-controlled excimer laser. The excimer laser does not burn tissues, but vaporizes small amounts of corneal tissues. Different types of techniques are used to correct short sight (myopia), long sight (hypermetropia) and astigmatism. This procedure has been performed since the mid-1990s and the aim of this refractive eye surgery is to provide normal eyesight, without using glasses and lenses.
The cost of LASIK surgery varies significantly by the procedure type and the region of the country. The national average price ranges from under $1,000 per eye up to $3,000 per eye, based on the technology used, surgeon experience and promotions. Each eye counts as one individual procedure and if you are having the surgery performed on both eyes, then you will be paying for two separate procedures. The average costs are:
- $2,223 per eye for correction procedures like LASIK, LASEK, PRK, etc.
- $1,543 per eye for non-customized LASIK
- $2,177 per eye for wavefront-guided LASIK
What Is PRK (Photorefractive Keratectomy)
PRK has been performed since the late 1980s, but with the development of LASIK and LASEK, PRK is now mainly used for correcting low prescriptions. During this surgery, the shape of the cornea is corrected by the excimer laser without cutting a flap of tissue. The corneal epithelium is removed and the layers beneath it are reshaped. This process removes only 5-10% of the thickness of the cornea for mild to moderate myopia. This procedure takes less than one minute for most patients. Advantages with PRK are:
- More suitable for people with a thin cornea.
- Less depth of laser treatment.
- Is beneficial to patients who have undergone LASIK procedure.
What is LASEK (Laser Epithelial Keratomileusis)
LASEK is similar to PRK, but the surface layer of cornea is retained as a flap. Retaining the epithelium helps prevent complications and speed up healing.
The IntraLASIK procedure is a completely bladeless method of LASIK. It uses small, quick pulses of light to form microscopic bubbles to separate the tissue of the cornea. Thousands of these bubbles create a uniform layer at a specific depth. This layer is very smooth and takes only about 15-30 seconds to create. A precision laser device is used to make potentially a more precise corneal flap without using a blade. IntraLASIK is more advantageous, because:
- People with thin corneas may be considered for this surgery.
- This procedure can be customized.
- It provides better overall vision.
- It is safer than traditional refractive eye surgeries.
iLASIK is a safe and highly effective procedure, which is a combination of a very advanced measurement technology and the most advanced lasers available in the world. It is 100% customized to suit the unique characteristics of each eye. This procedure helps correct a wide range of imperfections in the eye.
The Wavefront-guided procedure is a tailor-made form of LASIK, which reduces the natural irregularities of the eye as well as corrects your eyesight. This advanced technology involves measuring the eye from front to back with a special laser, using wavefront technology, to create a three-dimensional (3-D) image of your eye. The information contained in the wavefront-map guides the laser in customizing the treatment to suit your individual visual system. This revolutionary method improves not only the quantity of your vision, but also the quality of how well you can see. Advantages of wavefront are:
- A greater chance of achieving 20/20 vision without glasses.
- A greater chance of achieving better than 20/20 vision.
- Reduction in the chance of losing best-spectacle corrected vision.
- Reduction in the chance of losing visual quality or contrast sensitivity.
- Reduction in the chance of night-vision disturbances.
- The potential to use wavefront LASIK to treat eyes that have previously had laser surgery and suffer from untoward side-effects.
LASIK or PRK Surgery, Which One Is Better?
While both procedures are effective and provide good results, you should consult a surgeon to know about the procedure that is more suitable for you.
Recovery with PRK is a little slow, because it generally takes a few days for new epithelial cells to create a layer, which provides cover for the eye surface.
- While PRK has minor infection risk and may cause vision haziness for 2-3 days after treatment, LASIK patients do not suffer from discomfort and their vision stabilizes more quickly.
- Many surgeons prefer PRK surgery for patients with larger pupils or thin corneas, because this procedure allows accessibility to the entire stroma layer for treatment.
- PRK is beneficial for patients who have undergone LASIK surgery previously, as their cornea has become thinner and is not ideal for another LASIK procedure.
- PRK reduces the risk of removing excessive cornea layers.
- Imperfect flap creations with LASIK may lead to complications with your vision.
- Patients prefer LASIK because it is less painful, offers faster vision recovery and does not cause post-surgery discomforts.
- Dry eye syndrome is more common with LASIK., because this deeper procedure interrupts your nerve supply.
Results Of Surgery
- Improved vision without the hassle of glasses and lenses.
- A very good chance of achieving better vision.
- Immediate vision correction in most patients.
- Gradual improvement in vision, which reaches peak quality within a few months.
- More success to people with a low grade of nearsightedness.
Possible Side Effects
Generally, patients experience discomfort for the first 24-48 hours after the surgery. Although side effects are rare, some possible effects include:Over or under correction – this can be caused by over or under treatment and patients may need a second enhancement procedure.
Excessive – thinning of cornea – this can lead to a bulging of the cornea. Vision deteriorates and leads to the need for contact lenses or even surgery in some cases.
- Dry eye – can be rectified by using lubricating eye drops.
- Infection – although this is extremely rare, it may need treatment with antibiotics.
Sensitive eyes – increased sensitivity to glare, which makes driving dangerous.
- Regression – over time some of the previous refractive errors can return. An enhancement procedure may be necessary to keep the patient out of glasses.
- Blurred vision – Seeing halos or rings around images.
The Right Age
Generally, you should be 21 years old or above to undergo this surgery and your prescription should not have changed for at least two years. LASIK is not performed for patients under 18, because eyes tend to keep changing into early adulthood. Although there is no upper age limit for refractive eye procedures, the success depends on the state of the eyes. The lens has to be clear and the patient should understand that LASIK cannot prevent a cataract from developing in the future.
Most patients are very pleased with the results of LASIK eye surgery. However, you should carefully weigh the benefits and risks based on your own personal value system and avoid being influenced by others.