One of the most popular ways to correct vision is with a procedure called LASIK (laser in-situ keratomileusis) with Intralase®, which uses a laser to change the curvature of the cornea (outer window of the eye).
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We can now perform an all-laser LASIK procedure. Laser Vision Correction is often associated solely with the VISX Star 4 Laser, but there are actually two very important steps in correcting your vision:
1. Creating a very thin flap of tissue that is folded back during treatment.
2. Reshaping the exposed surface with the Excimer laser and closing the flap. Until now, the flap was created with an instrument called the microkeratome.
Advantages of Intralase:
1. Increased Safety:
Because there is no blade variability with the IntraLase procedure, there is little or no risk of flap irregularities. The all-laser approach allows our doctors to design the flap specifically to your eyes and visual needs. Additionally, a standard microkeratome flap heals over a period of weeks to months. The IntraLase flap bonds more securely, resulting in a flap that is stronger and more resistant to injury.
2. Increased Precision:
IntraLase offers the ability to create a flap of uniform thickness at a pre-programmed depth. The traditional style microkeratome's do not account for the curvature of the cornea and create a meniscus style flap, with the edges somewhat thicker than the center. Variations in flap thickness may result in a variation of your visual outcome. With IntraLase we know exactly what depth the flap will be, and we are able to preserve the most corneal tissue following the procedure, leaving each patient with a stronger, more stable eye.
3. Increased Comfort:
With traditional LASIK, the flap is created with a device that was fashioned after a carpenter's plane. With IntraLase, the laser passes through the cornea and creates small bubbles at a preprogrammed depth without applying friction to the front layer of the eye, resulting in a much more comfortable approach for a patient.
LASIK is for those who:
- want to reduce or eliminate their dependence on glasses or contacts.
- are at least 18 years of age.
- have had a stable eye prescription for at least one year.
- have no health issues affecting their eyes.
- have no signs of glaucoma or cataracts.
What to Expect on Surgery Day:
You will arrive at the laser center about an hour prior to your procedure. Once you have been checked in you may be offered a sedative to help you relax. You will then be prepared for surgery. The area around your eyes will be cleaned and a sterile drape may be applied around your eye. Anesthetic eye drops will be used to numb your eyes; no injections or needles will be used. When your eye is completely numb, an eyelid holder will be placed between your eyelids to keep you from blinking during the procedure.
Next, the Intralase laser will create a hinged flap of thin corneal tissue, and your doctor will gently fold the flap out of the way. During this process, you may feel a little pressure, but no pain. You will then be asked to look directly at a target light while the laser reshapes your cornea. The VISX Star 4 laser will be programmed with the information gathered in your pre-operative exam. The laser treatment will be completed in less than a minute or two, depending on the amount of correction needed. To finish the procedure, the protective layer will be folded back into place where it will bond without the need for stitches.
Following your procedure, your eye(s) will be examined with a slit lamp microscope. Then you will be given additional eye drops, and your eyes may be shielded for protection. Your vision will probably be a little blurry at first, so someone will need to drive you home. You should relax for the rest of the day. You may experience some discomfort for 12 to 24 hours, but this is usually alleviated with an over-the-counter pain reliever. Some people experience sensitivity to light, and watering or swelling of their eyes for a few days following their procedure.
You will be asked to come back the next day for another examination of your eye(s). Most people can actually see well enough to drive the next day but it's best not to drive until you have been examined. You should be able to resume your normal activities the day after surgery.
Vision can fluctuate several months, but most people can see well enough to pass a driver's license vision exam the next day following this procedure.
The decision to have LASIK is an important one that only you can make. The goal of any refractive surgical procedure is to reduce your dependence on corrective lenses. However, we cannot guarantee you will have the results you desire. The vast majority of our patients are extremely happy with their vision after LASIK and can do most activities without dependence on corrective lenses.
Serious complications with LASIK are extremely rare. LASIK is a safe, effective and permanent procedure, but like any surgical procedure, it does have some risks. Many of the risks and complications associated with this procedure can be reduced or eliminated through careful patient selection and thorough pre-operative testing using the latest diagnostic technology.
After LASIK, you may experience some visual side effects. These visual side effects are usually mild and diminish over time. But there is a slight chance that some of these side effects won't go away completely, such as feelings of dryness, glare and halos.
Since everyone heals somewhat differently, some patients may over react to the procedure and some may under react resulting in over corrections and under corrections. Once the eye has stabilized (3 to 6 months) you and your doctor can discuss whether a re-treatment could help fine tune your vision if you are over or under corrected.