Laser eye surgery corrects vision problems in one treatment

LASIK stands for laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis, a laser eye surgery treatment for nearsightedness (can’t see far away), farsightedness (can’t see close up), and astigmatism, which is when the cornea has become misshapen and blurs or distorts vision. During the surgery, the ophthalmologist adjusts the shape of the cornea to its natural curve in order to correct vision.

Many LASIK patients are satisfied with the immediate results and benefits of LASIK, such as being able to:

  • See around the room and readily focus on things upon waking up
  • Comfortably jog or participate in activities without glasses falling off or getting in the way
  • Save money on lifetime expense of glasses and/or contact lenses

LASIK what to expect

Your ophthalmologist (eye doctor) will give you a baseline eye evaluation to help determine whether or not you’re a good candidate for LASIK surgery. If you decide to go ahead with the surgery, you will receive specific instructions on how to prepare. People who wear contact lenses, for example, will be asked to not wear the lenses for two weeks (soft contacts) or four weeks (hard contacts). This is because contact lenses alter the shape of the cornea, which could alter the results of the baseline evaluation and impact the surgical approach and accuracy.

The day before surgery, you will be required to stop using all creams, powders, make-up and mascara to minimize debris from any of these products, which can cause infection if the debris gets into the eye incision. You will be asked to repeatedly cleanse the eyelash area in preparation for your surgery.

The surgery itself takes about 30 minutes. Your doctor will put numbing drops in the eye and you may receive medication to help you relax, but you will be awake during the procedure. The doctor will use laser surgical instruments to “lift” the corneal “flap” which allows the laser to access and reshape the cornea. The flap is then lowered back in place. Your vision may be blurry for a day or so afterwards and you will need someone to drive you home after your appointment.

LASIK risks and recovery

Your doctor will discuss any risks associated with LASIK surgery and help you understand what to expect before, during and after surgery. While most people respond well to LASIK surgery, there is some risk of infection as well as unwanted vision changes, such as overcorrection or undercorrection. There is also the possibility that you will still need glasses or contacts in the future but you may be less reliant on them than you are now.

During the LASIK recovery period, you’ll be required to use special eye drops. Your eyes will be very dry at first and the drops will help with lubrication and healing. Most people begin to see well almost immediately after the surgery (within a few days). You will see your doctor for a follow-up visit within the first 48 hours after LASIK surgery and periodically over the next six months. After that you will continue with routine eye exams and care on an annual or twice a year basis, as recommended by your doctor.

Main Line Health serves patients at hospitals and health centers throughout the western suburbs of Philadelphia. To schedule an appointment with a specialist at Main Line Health, call 1.866.CALL.MLH (225.5654) or use our secure online appointment request form.