Laser vision correction, commonly known as LASIK, is a procedure using a precise computer-operated laser to gently reshape the cornea, allowing light rays to better focus. By reshaping the cornea and manipulating the focus on the retina, the need for corrective lenses is reduced. Laser vision correction is used to treat nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism.
The LASIK procedure is non-invasive and takes only minutes per eye. Many patients can return to work the next day.
In order to understand how laser vision correction improves vision, it is beneficial to understand how the eye focuses light and how refractive errors are determined. For the eye to focus light, it relies on two major focusing features: the cornea and the lens. The cornea is a thin transparent layer of the eye located on the outside of the pupil and iris. The lens is an oval-shaped transparent tissue located inside the eye behind the pupil and iris.
In an eye with ideal vision, light rays meet while passing through the cornea and the lens and then perfectly focus on the retina. The cornea and the lens work with each other to direct the light rays onto the retina, which results in excellent vision.
The eye is considered to have a refractive error if the light rays do not focus directly on the retina. The three most common refractive errors are nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism.
Nearsightedness, otherwise known as myopia, is the ability to see near objects more clearly than distant objects. Nearsighted vision occurs when the cornea is steeper or the eye is longer than normal. As a result, light rays meet and focus in front of the retina.
Farsightedness, otherwise known as hyperopia, farsightedness is the ability to see distant objects more clearly than near objects. Farsighted vision occurs when the cornea is flatter or the eye is shorter than normal. As a result, light rays do not have enough space to meet and focus on the retina.
Astigmatism is the inability to focus clearly on an object at any distance. An astigmatism occurs when the cornea is irregularly shaped, causing distorted vision. As a consequence, light rays meet and focus at various locations within the astigmatic eye. Astigmatism is often associated with nearsightedness or farsightedness.
LASIK vs. PRK
Before deciding which laser vision correction is the right solution for you, different options will be discussed during the initial consultation.
LASIK (laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis) is a procedure that uses the Excimer laser to reshape the cornea, after lifting a corneal flap.
In preparation for the LASIK procedure, your eyes will be numbed with an anesthetic eye drop. While in the operating room, the surgeon will secure your eyelids in order to restrict you from blinking during the procedure. Then, a thin protective flap is made in your cornea. After the flap is created, the surgeon will safely lift the flap to gently reshape the bare corneal surface with an Excimer laser. Following the laser correction, the flap is safely laid back in place to bond back to the corneal surface. The procedure itself only lasts a matter of minutes.
PRK (photorefractive keratectomy) is a procedure that uses the Excimer laser beam directly on the cornea, without the creation of a corneal flap.
In preparation for the PRK procedure, your eyes will be numbed with an anesthetic eye drop. While in the operating room, the surgeon will secure your eyelids in order to restrict you from blinking during the procedure. The surgeon then removes the epithelium, the outer most layer of the cornea. Next, a precise laser beam will be used to reshape the bare cornea to correct any refractive error. The procedure itself only lasts a matter of minutes.
Find out what laser vision correction option is right for you.