“LASIK surgery uses a highly specialised laser to reshape the cornea to correct myopia, hyperopia and astigmatism. Normal vision often returns within a day after the procedure and stable vision is usually attained within one to three months.”
What is LASIK?
Laser assisted in-situ keratomileusis (LASIK), is a procedure that
uses a highly specialised laser (excimer laser) to correct myopia, hyperopia and astigmatism. Prior to the application of laser, a thin cornea flap is created using a specialised blade (microkeratome) or by using another specialised laser (femtosecond laser). The cornea flap is lifted and the excimer laser is applied to the corneal bed. The laser does not burn or cut any tissue, but gently vaporises microscopic layers of cells beneath the cornea flap to change the shape of the cornea so that light may be better focused by the eye. Subsequently, the cornea flap is repositioned on the cornea.
Currently, LASIK is effective for myopia up to 1500 degrees, astigmatism up to 400 degrees, and for low to moderate hyperopia. . However, this is dependent on the patient s corneal thickness. As the excimer laser is applied under the cornea flap, there is little risk of corneal scarring, minimal post-operative discomfort and pain, and usually requires eye drops for one week. Normal vision often returns within a day and regular activities can be resumed within the first few days. Stable vision is usually attained within one to three months.
How is LASIK carried out?
LASIK is usually carried out as a day surgery, without the need for hospitalisation. During the procedure, the patient remains awake. The eye is first numbed with anaesthetic eyedrops. An eyelid retainer is then placed between the eyelids to prevent blinking. Next, a thin flap is created in the outer layer of the cornea with an instrument called a microkeratome (a motorised blade) or by using the femtosecond laser. The flap is lifted and an excimer laser is then used to remove tissue from the cornea, re-shaping the cornea to correct the refractive error. After the required correction, the flap is gently repositioned onto the cornea.
Who are suitable for LASIK?
Anyone who wants to minimise dependence on glasses or contact lenses may consider LASIK. However, to be a suitable candidate, the patient must:
- Be at least 21 years of age;
- Have a visual condition not exceeding 1500 degrees for myopia, 500 degrees for hyperopia and 400 degrees for astigmatism;
- Have stable vision without significant increase for the past one year;
- Have eyes free from injuries or diseases;
- Not be pregnant.
Before the procedure, a comprehensive pre-operative consultation and examination is carried out to determine the patient s suitability for LASIK. However, it is important for the patient to have realistic expectations and be aware of the potential risks and side effects that may occur with the surgery.
How to care for your eyes after a LASIK surgery?
After a LASIK surgery, it is normal to experience slight discomfort or tearing that usually diminishes within the first day. However, it is important to comply with post-operative instructions and attend all post-surgery appointments. Here are some tips that LASIK patients can follow to ensure full recovery:
- Apply the prescribed eye drops as directed for the period of time as instructed.
- Avoid rubbing the operated eye.
- Wear sunglasses when outdoors to protect the eye from bright sunlight.
- Avoid wearing eye make-up for one week.
- Avoid swimming and water sports for two weeks after the surgery.
- During the first week, exercise care while showering so as to prevent water, soap or shampoo from entering the operated eye.
- During the first month after surgery, wear protective eyewear while playing contact sports or racquet games.
- Try to rest for one to two days after the LASIK surgery. You can approach the doctor for medical leave if necessary.
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