LASIK is an acronym for laser in-situ keratomileusis popularly known as laser eye surgery. It is a popular surgery to correct vision in people who are near-sighted (myopia), farsighted (hyperopia), or have astigmatism. Astigmatism is an eye condition that results in blurred vision. LASIK eye surgery works by reshaping the cornea, which is the clear part of the eye so that light focuses on the retina in the back of your eye. If you’re tired of wearing glasses and are considering LASIK, here are a few things to keep in mind.
Requirements for LASIK
One key consideration is whether you fit the requirements for a LASIK eye surgery candidate.
You are a good candidate for LASIK eye surgery if you are or have:
- overall good health.
- healthy eyes.
- a prescription that is within range.
- thick enough corneas.
- within the right age range, usually 20-40 but you can be older.
- stable vision that’s not fluctuating for at least 1-2 years before LASIK.
- pupils that are not too large.
You are not a good candidate for LASIK eye surgery if you are or have:
- younger than 18.
- pregnant or nursing.
- taking certain medications.
- experienced lots of recent changes to your vision prescription.
- thin or uneven corneas.
- eye conditions like glaucoma or dry eyes.
- other health issues like diabetes, lupus, or rheumatoid arthritis.
A key factor to consider is recovery time. You need to factor in time off from your daily responsibilities including your place of work. Most people who get LASIK eye surgery notice an immediate improvement in their vision or by the next day or so. Full eye recovery and healing take about three to six months. Immediately after the surgery, you’ll need someone to drive you home and your doctor will advise against any activities that may strain your eyes including reading, watching television, and just generally using your eyes.
Symptoms immediately after LASIK eye surgery
The symptoms will vary in severity from one person to the next and include:
- Eye discomfort especially after the topical numbing antiseptic wears off.
- Blurry or foggy vision.
- Eye dryness.
- Sensitivity to light.
- Eye irritation, itching, or burning sensation.
- Tiny areas of bleeding on the whites of the eye.
- Seeing streaks, glares, starbursts, or halos, especially when driving at night.
You should speak to your health care provider if you are experiencing severe eye pain, get hit or poked in the eye, and experience a worsening of symptoms that should be temporary.
Within 24-48 hours: the eyes healed enough to be able to drive and go back to work.
In one to two weeks: the corneal flap is healed enough that the risk of infection goes down. You can exercise and participate in non-contact sports and use lotions, creams, and makeup around the eyes.
After a month or two: my eyes healed enough for contact sports, swimming, and hot tubs.
In 6 months: vision should be stable, and visual disturbances should be cleared.
Possible side effects and complications
The latest research reports show that 99% of patients achieve better than 20/40 vision and more than 90% achieve 20/20 or better. LASIK eye surgery also has an unprecedented 96% patient satisfaction rate.
Some potential side effects and complications to keep in mind include:
Dry eyes: LASIK causes a temporary decrease in tear production. This may last for 6 months and be less severe even after healing.
Glare, halos, and double vision: you may have difficulty seeing at night and experience some glare, halos around bright lights, or double vision.
Undercorrections and overcorrections: when this happens, you don’t end up getting clearer vision and may need another surgery. Overcorrections are more difficult to fix.
Vision loss or changes: loss of vision due to surgical complications are extremely rare. Some people may not see as clearly as they did before.
Cost is one of the key considerations for people considering LASIK eye surgery. If you have insurance coverage, find out if it’s covered. If you don’t, keep in mind that the cost varies based on factors unique to the patient’s particular needs and profile. People with particularly high prescriptions may need to pay more.
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