Over the last 22 years, laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis – known everywhere as LASIK – has become an alternative to contact lenses and eyeglasses for patients of all ages. Yet surgeons now perform the procedure with more skill and understanding, and it offers a new measure of clarity. Instead of working toward a 20-20 standard, doctors aim for 20-15: LASIK advances can now let patients see at 20 feet what a person with normal uncorrected vision sees at 15. (You’ll find information about the operation on Horizon Eye Care’s LASIK page.)
Today’s LASIK Advances
Technology has come a long way since the procedure began in the late ‘90s. Ophthalmologists once did the early stages of surgery with a microkeratome, a kind of super-sharp razor blade on a slide, before finishing with a laser; today, the laser does the whole procedure. Some clinics, Horizon among them, now use topography-guided LASIK, which takes an extremely detailed measurement of the eye’s shape to create a more customized treatment.
The military uses LASIK advances to improve eyesight where it’s crucial – for example, in fighter pilots – and employs an innovation to make healing more secure. To reshape the cornea, doctors first cut a thin flap that can be lifted off its upper surface. Military surgeons put beveled edges on the flap, creating a stronger bond during reattachment. Civilian doctors like the ones at Horizon can use this technique to make sure a blow during a basketball game or even the impact of an auto accident won’t dislodge that flap.
They’ve also realized the procedure may be valuable to more people than they first imagined. It was created to correct nearsightedness, but it now works for some patients who suffer from far-sightedness or the blurry vision of astigmatism. Older patients whose cataract surgery didn’t give them 20-20 sight may follow up with LASIK to get the sharpness they require.
Some things haven’t changed. Doctors do these surgeries in the Horizon office, and you’re sent home soon afterward. Your eyes will feel scratchy that day, and your vision may be foggy, but most people see properly the following day and go back to work within 48 hours. Patients take anti-inflammatory, anti-infection drops for a week, then have to be gentle with their eyes for a month. Then all restrictions end.
LASIK Is For Adults Only
Doctors don’t perform LASIK on people under 18, because children’s prescriptions change too fast for it to be effective. Patients with dry-eye problems should opt out; surgeons have to cut corneal nerves, and eyes don’t naturally produce enough tears for a while afterward. (Corneas don’t have blood vessels, though, so bleeding can’t become a problem.) People who heal poorly, diabetics and patients with auto-immune diseases should skip it. A few people develop long-term complications, so you’ll want to discuss those possibilities with your doctor.
And if you determine LASIK is not for you but want to avoid glasses and external contact lenses, you have other options. Implantable contact lenses let you see clearly from the moment you get out of bed. A clear lens exchange – essentially the same thing as cataract surgery, done before cataracts develop – achieves the same effect. Whether or not these LASIK advances suit you, you can still achieve freedom from the daily routine of cleaning, losing or wearing out traditional lenses.
Is LASIK Right For You?
To schedule an exam or a free consultation about LASIK at Horizon Eye Care, use our Patient Portal or call 704-365-0555 Monday – Thursday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Friday 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.