LASIK Laser Vision Correction Surgery
Welcome to our comprehensive discussion on LASIK laser vision correction surgery.
We hope you will find this extensive discussion on LASIK correction will be your “Everything you need to know about LASIK surgery” guide and empower you to have the most productive consultation with your LASIK surgeon so you make an informed decision that will help you get your best possible vision.
LASIK continues to be a revolutionary laser vision correction procedure that has transformed the lives of millions of individuals seeking freedom from glasses and contact lenses. If you're tired of dealing with blurry vision or the inconvenience of corrective eyewear, LASIK might be the solution you have been searching for.
While LASIK and PRK are great options for tens of millions of people in the US, laser vision correction surgery is not the only option when it comes to improving your vision through eye surgery (and we’ll get to those options further on below), which is why we recommend meeting with a highly qualified LASIK Surgeon. Eye surgeons who have proven expertise can more properly diagnose you, recommend the best procedure for your vision and your eyes, and will have the experience and expertise to successfully perform the surgery you choose so you the obtain your best possible vision outcome.
Our comprehensive LASIK go-to guide will touch on what you need to know about LASIK surgery, its benefits, how to know if you are a suitable candidate, how the procedure is performed by an ophthalmologist, what additional technologies are available to enhance LASIK potential risks and complications, what to expect during this procedure, and what other vision correction procedures are available to you if you are not a good candidate for LASIK.
Please click “play” for a collection of videos on LASIK explaining its benefits, whether you are a good candidate, how LASIK is performed, and what additional advanced technologies are used to enhance your LASIK procedure.
- What is LASIK Surgery?
- Main Benefits and Advantages of LASIK Surgery
- LASIK Surgery Satisfaction
- Vision Outcomes After LASIK
- Who Is a Good Candidate for LASIK Surgery?
- Who Is Not a Good Candidate for LASIK?
- LASIK Enhancement Technologies
- Before LASIK: Preoperative Procedures, Testing, and Eligibility
- How is LASIK Surgery Performed?
- After a LASIK Procedure: Postoperative Care
- Potential Risks and Complications of LASIK
- LASIK Alternatives: Other Available Vision Correction Procedures
- LASIK Eye Surgery Cost: What Is Total Price for LASIK?
- Additional Resources
What Is LASIK Surgery?
LASIK stands for “Laser-Assisted In Situ Keratomileusis,” is a safe and effective surgical procedure designed to correct common vision problems. LASIK is commonly referred to as laser eye surgery or laser vision correction and has become a long-lasting alternative to traditional eyeglasses or contact lenses for many individuals.
Your LASIK eye surgeon will use a laser or manual tools to create a flap from the top corneal layer of your eye. Your eye surgeon will then use a special laser to help reshape the cornea so light can focus better into the eye.
LASIK vs. PRK. Unlike PRK, LASIK involves creating a corneal flap before reshaping your cornea. Next, a highly precise laser will reshape your cornea (the clear front surface of the eye) to improve how light rays enter the eye and focus on the retina. After that, the corneal flap is put back in place. With PRK no flap is created so the laser is used directly on your cornea to reshape your eye.
LASIK is a type of minimally invasive procedure that helps correct the eyesight of people with certain vision disorders which include:
- Nearsightedness (Myopia)
- Farsightedness (Hyperopia)
- Astigmatism (either combined with nearsighted or farsightedness)
- Presbyopia (Monovision)
Main Benefits and Advantages of LASIK Surgery
LASIK surgery offers several advantages that make it an appealing option for vision correction:
- Clearer Vision without Glasses or Contact Lenses. The primary benefit of a LASIK procedure is significantly improved visual acuity without the need for glasses or contact lenses.
- Quick and Painless Procedure. LASIK vision surgery is an efficient and relatively painless procedure and is typically completed within 30 minutes.
- Long-Lasting Results. Once your eyes have healed, the improved vision provided by LASIK correction is a long-lasting solution.
- Broadens Lifestyle Choices. By freeing individuals from their dependence on eyeglasses or contacts, LASIK eye care allows them to lead more active lifestyles.
- Cost-Effective Over Time. While LASIK treatment may involve an initial investment, it can be cost-effective over the long term due to reduced reliance on corrective eyewear.
LASIK Surgery Satisfaction
Surveys indicate high patient satisfaction rates with LASIK vision surgery. However, a small percentage of patients may experience dissatisfaction.
Some patients may be dissatisfied with LASIK surgery because they experience chronic severe dry eye, night vision disturbances like halos, or may need additional corrective procedures due to over- or under-correction.
Vision Outcomes After LASIK
Generally, the amount of improvement in your vision from LASIK eye correction will depend on your specific refractive error and other factors. Those with lower amount of nearsightedness tend to have the most success with LASIK vision surgery. While people who have high amounts of nearsightedness or farsightedness along with astigmatism will have less predictable results, LASIK can still help you attain great vision.
According to a LASIK discussion on the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) website, 90% of LASIK patients achieve vision ranging from 20/20 to 20/40 without the need for glasses or contact lenses. A 2016 article entitled “LASIK Outcomes: How Are We Doing and Can We Do Better” published by the Journal of Cataract and Refractive Surgery (JCRS) “the percentage of eyes achieving an uncorrected distance visual acuity (UDVA) of 20/20 or better was 90.8%, and 99.5% achieved 20/40 or better.” However, you should meet with a LASIK surgeon with proven expertise to ensure you are not only a good candidate for LASIK eye correction but that LASIK is the best procedure that will improve your vision the most compared to other vision correction procedures that may also be suitable for you.
Can LASIK (and PRK) Correct Reading Problems?
As the AAO further explains in its LASIK eye surgery discussion on its website (see the section entitled "Vision After LASIK"), LASIK does not address Presbyopia, which is the age-related loss of near vision (reading small print). In other words, those of us who have excellent distance vision will usually require reading glasses sometime after the age 40, regardless of whether we have laser vision correction surgery.
For presbyopia correction, some individuals opt for monovision LASIK and other recent advancements like Kamra Inlay surgery may be suitable options. The monovision LASIK or PRK approach will leave one eye slightly nearsighted and the other adjusted for distance vision. Depending on each person, the brain adapts, using the nearsighted eye for close tasks and the other eye for distant objects. However, monovision isn't suitable for everyone. It’s always worth asking an expert LASIK surgeon if you are a good candidate for monovision. If your ophthalmologist thinks you might be a good candidate for monovision, your LASIK surgeon can have you try monovision with contact lenses before a laser vision surgery which will help determine if you can adapt to LASIK eye correction.
Who Is a Good Candidate for LASIK Surgery?
To be a good candidate for LASIK surgery, you need to meet specific requirements to ensure you obtain the best outcome and improvements to your vision. The following criteria are used to determine whether you are a good candidate for LASIK surgery:
- Age Considerations. Candidates should ideally be 18 years or older, with a preference for those over 21 years old. At this age, the vision is more likely to have stabilized, reducing the risk of post-surgery changes.
- Stable Prescription. The stability of your eye prescription is crucial. Changes in your prescription should be minimal over the last year before considering LASIK to ensure that the correction is accurate and lasting.
- Treatable Refractive Error. LASIK is effective for treating certain refractive errors, including nearsightedness (myopia), farsightedness (hyperopia), and astigmatism. Your refractive error should fall within the treatable range for LASIK. If you are in an extreme range, you may be better candidate for a more suitable vision correction procedures like EVO ICLs.
- Corneal Thickness and Health. Healthy corneas with adequate thickness are essential. LASIK involves reshaping the cornea, and having enough corneal tissue is necessary for a successful procedure.
- General Eye Health. Your overall eye health should be good, without significant underlying eye conditions or diseases that could interfere with the success of LASIK surgery.
Having realistic expectations about the outcomes of LASIK is crucial. While LASIK, PRK and other vision correction surgery can significantly improve vision, these procedures may not achieve perfect vision for everyone, and you should always keep that in mind.
Who Is Not a Good Candidate for LASIK?
Certain individuals are not suitable candidates for LASIK due to specific factors that may increase the risks or reduce the effectiveness of the procedure and in some cases may disqualify individuals from undergoing the procedure. Factors that often indicate you are not a good candidate for LASIK (and many of these factors also apply to PRK laser vision surgery) include:
- Unstable Refractive Error. If you have an unstable or frequently changing prescription you might not be suitable for LASIK, as successful correction in vision from laser vision correction surgery relies on having a stable prescription.
- Extreme Refractive Errors. If you have extremely high levels of myopia, hyperopia, or astigmatism, you might not achieve optimal results with LASIK. Always consult with an experienced eye surgeon who offers other procedures to see if another vision correction procedure is better suited to you.
- Pupil Size and Visual Symptoms. People with large pupils (due to medications or age) may be more prone to visual symptoms like glare, halos, starbursts, and ghost images (double vision) in dim light after surgery. Realize such visual symptoms as these may worsen with LASIK which is why this procedure may not be a suitable option for you.
- Severe Dry Eye. If you have severe dry eye syndrome, you may not be suitable for LASIK surgery, as LASIK can exacerbate dry eye symptoms.
- Thin Corneas. If your corneas are too thin, this might disqualify you from LASIK, as there needs to be enough corneal tissue for the procedure (especially to make the flap). However, PRK surgery might still be an option.
- Severe Keratoconus. Individuals with keratoconus, (which has to do with the curvature of your cornea. People with this condition where the cornea becomes cone-shaped are generally not candidates for LASIK due to the irregular corneal shape.
- Pre-Existing Corneal Scars or Diseases. Pre-existing corneal scars or certain corneal diseases could make LASIK eye correction unsuitable options for you.
- Advanced Glaucoma. Candidates with advanced glaucoma, a condition that damages the optic nerve, might not be eligible for LASIK.
- Cataract Affecting Vision. If a cataract significantly affects vision, LASIK surgery may not be recommended until the cataract is addressed.
- History of Certain Eye Infections. Individuals with a history of certain eye infections may not be suitable candidates for LASIK treatment due to the increased risk of complications.
- Poorly Controlled Diabetes. Poorly controlled diabetes can affect healing and increase the risks of complications, potentially making LASIK unsuitable for some individuals.
- Certain Eye Conditions Can Make a Person Ineligible. People with specific eye conditions such as Fuchs’ corneal endothelial dystrophy, corneal epithelial basement membrane dystrophy, retinal tears, and autoimmune diseases may need to address these issues before considering LASIK.
- Pregnant or Nursing Mothers. Women who are pregnant or nursing may not be good candidates for a LASIK eye procedure.
LASIK Enhancement Technologies
All-Laser LASIK, often referred to as Bladeless LASIK, is another advancement in LASIK eye surgery. When LASIK first came out, a microkeratome blade was used to make the corneal flap creation, All-Laser LASIK employs a femtosecond laser to achieve an exceptionally precise and ultra-thin corneal flap. This results in a safer and more accurate LASIK procedure. By harnessing the power of laser technology for both flap generation and corneal reshaping, Bladeless LASIK offers patients an elevated level of precision, minimized risk of complications, and potentially speedier recovery periods. Please see our discussion on All-Laser LASIK for more information.
Custom LASIK and PRK utilize advanced technologies and offer several advantages over traditional LASIK and PRK procedures. The. three main variations of custom laser vision correction surgery that provide more precision and reduced side effects are (1) Wavefront Guided LASIK and PRK, (2) Wavefront Optimized LASIK and PRK and (3) Topography Assisted LASIK.
Wavefront Guided LASIK. Wavefront Guided LASIK and PRK use wavefront sensor measurements to provide a more customized correction for higher-order aberrations. The main benefits are enhanced correction of higher-order aberrations, leading to improved visual quality and reduced issues like glare and halos.
Wavefront Optimized LASIK. Wavefront Optimized LASIK and PRK aim to maintain the natural curvature of the cornea's center while correcting refractive errors, considering the eye's natural shape and adapting the treatment. Wavefront Optimized LASIK and PRK preserve the eye's natural corneal shape, minimizing the potential for inducing higher-order aberrations and improving visual outcomes, especially for patients with mild to moderate prescriptions.
Topography Assisted LASIK. Topography-Assisted LASIK utilizes corneal topography technology to provide personalized measurements of corneal shape and curvature. This technology provides precise targeting of irregularities in corneal shape, making it a suitable choice for patients with irregular corneas or prior refractive surgeries, resulting in improved visual outcomes.
To learn more about Custom LASIK and Wavefront technologies used with LASIK and PRK, please visit our Custom LASIK and PRK Discussion
Before LASIK: Preoperative Procedures, Testing, and Eligibility
Before undergoing LASIK surgery, certain preoperative procedures and evaluations are necessary to ensure suitability and minimize risks. These also apply to PRK.
Preoperative Examination. All LASIK patients must undergo a thorough preoperative examination, which includes an evaluation of your eye health and the stability of your vision. Your eye surgeon will also assess the shape, contour, thickness, and irregularities of your cornea in order to identify the areas requiring reshaping and to calculate the exact amount of corneal tissue to be removed in order to best correct your vision.
- Stopping Contact Lens Use. If you currently wear contact lenses, your laser vision correction surgeon will typically instruct you to stop wearing your contacts for 1-2 weeks (or as otherwise directed by your surgeon) before your LASIK or PRK surgery to ensure accurate measurements and reduce the risk of complications.
- Eligibility Criteria. Besides being a suitable candidate for LASIK eye treatments (as described above), you must meet specific eligibility criteria, including stable vision for at least one year and meet an age requirement (at least 22 years or older, although 25 is a more ideal age since your vision is more likely to have stabilized by then). Please refer to the above section entitled “Who Is a Good Candidate for LASIK?” for more info on whether you are a good candidate for LASIK.Who Is a Good Candidate for LASIK?" for more info on whether you are a good candidate for LASIK.
How is LASIK Surgery Performed?
A LASIK eye treatment usually takes no more than 30 minutes to perform. LASIK involves three basic steps for reshaping your cornea and improving visual acuity, including:
- Flap Creation. A femtosecond laser (all-laser or bladeless LASIK) or a microkeratome with a metal blade is used to create a flap that is folded away allowing access to your cornea.
- Laser Reshaping of Cornea. An excimer laser is used to reshape the cornea without causing damage to adjacent tissues.
- Flap Repositioning. After the laser reshaping of your cornea, the flap is carefully repositioned over the treated area and will remains in place through natural adhesion during the healing process. For the vast majority of LASIK patients, your eye will heal without stitches.
Please click on the “play” button so see how LASIK is performed.
After a LASIK Procedure. Post-Operative Care
After LASIK or PRK laser vision correction surgery, ophthalmologists will usually prescribe antibiotic and anti-inflammatory eye drops. Patients are advised to rest, protect their eyes from bright lights with dark eyeglasses, and moisturize their eyes with preservative-free tear drops. Bandage contact lenses may be used to aid healing and if used, these will typically removed after a few days.
Potential Risks and Complications of LASIK
Although LASIK is generally safe, like any surgical procedure, it carries potential risks and complications. For some individuals, LASIK side effects might take a longer duration to go away and there is a chance that they continue long after they have LASIK. Many of the below side effects and complications may also occur with PRK or other laser vision correction procedures. To learn more about the safety of LASIK, please visit our "Is LASIK Safe?" discussion.
Some of the potential side effects and complications from LASIK treatments include the following
- Under-Correction or Over-Correction. . It’s possible that your visual outcome after LASIK eye surgery may result in under-correction or over-correction. Fortunately, many of these issues can often be rectified with the use of eyeglasses, contact lenses, or, if necessary, a LASIK or PRK enhancement or another vision correction procedure
- Loss of Best Vision. While it is also possible you may lose your best possible vision, this may be corrected with a retreatment procedure like LASIK or PRK or another vision correction procedure.
- Lower Order Aberrations: Visual haziness, fogginess, or blurriness are considered lower-order aberrations. Blurriness, which is associated with astigmatism, may not be completely corrected with LASIK surgery.
- Higher-Order Aberrations: Some patients may experience visual problems like halos, starbursts (encircling light sources around objects), ghost images, double vision, and night vision (which includes a diminished capacity to perceive objects in low-light conditions) are disturbances due to higher-order aberrations.
- Dry Eyes: Dry eyes are a common side effect after a LASIK treatment, but they usually improve over time. Severe chronic dry eye syndrome is possible but rare.
- Corneal Flap and Ocular Surface Complications. Ocular surface and flap complications include subconjunctival hemorrhage, corneal scarring, epithelial ingrowth, and displaced corneal flaps or folds. However, these complications are very rare when you choose an expert LASIK surgeon.
- Infection: The risk of infection after LASIK is very low but not entirely absent.
- Sensations of eye pain or discomfort. An uncomfortable, scratchy sensation in your eye
- Increased sensitivity to light.
- Pink or Red Patches. Development of small pink or red patches on the white part of the eye can occur after LASIK, but these typically will gradually vanish over time.
In extremely rare cases, there are risks of severe eye infections and potential worsening of vision compared to your vision before LASIK surgery (and this can happen in very rare cases, even when using eyeglasses or contact lenses).
Although infrequent, complications from LASIK may take a year to go away or they may remain. For example, almost everyone who has a LASIK procedure will have dry eyes and changing vision during the day. These symptoms usually fade within a month. But not always. In other words, there is a possibility that complications which are often temporary may take longer to disappear or they may remain for some people.
For more information about effectiveness, safety, risks and complications of LASIK, please visit our "Is LASIK Safe and Effective?" and LASIK Surgery Risk Factors, and All-Laser LASIK Risk Factors discussions as well an FDA video about "LASIK Complications on YouTube".
The LASIK surgeons you find in our Trusted LASIK Surgeons™ Directory have proven experience in managing complications from laser vision correction procedures performed by another surgeon (different eye surgeon) and have typically also treated other eye doctors and their families with LASIK and other vision correction procedures. This is why we believe you can choose a LASIK surgeon you find here at Trusted LASIK Surgeons™ with confidence.
LASIK Alternatives: Other Available Vision Correction Procedures
In addition to LASIK, there are several alternative procedures available to correct vision problems, including PRK, EVO ICLs, and SMILE Eye Surgery. These procedures may be suitable for you if you are not a good candidate eligible for LASIK or you prefer different surgical approaches to correct your vision.
Please click on the play button below to see a video on LASIK, PRK, EVO ICLs and SMILE Eye surgery
- PRK (Photorefractive Keratectomy). RK PRK is another laser eye surgery (similar to LASIK) that corrects vision by reshaping your cornea. Unlike LASIK, which creates a corneal flap, PRK involves removing the thin outer layer of your cornea (epithelium) before using the laser to reshape the underlying corneal tissue. The epithelium regenerates naturally after PRK, although there is a longer healing period and the possibility of discomfort and minor pain while your eye heals compared to LASIK. PRK is more suitable for individuals with thin corneas or certain corneal irregularities that do not make them good candidates for LASIK. Please visit our PRK discussion page to learn more.
- SMILE Eye Surgery. SMall Incision Lenticule Extraction or SMILE Eye Surgery is a minimally invasive laser eye surgery that corrects myopia (nearsightedness) and astigmatism. During the procedure, a femtosecond laser creates a small lenticule within the cornea, which is then removed through a small incision. This reshapes the cornea and corrects the refractive error. SMILE has the advantage of preserving more corneal tissue compared to LASIK and PRK. Please visit our SMILE Eye Surgery discussion page to learn more.
- EVO ICLs (Implantable Collamer Lenses). The EVO ICL is a vision correction surgical procedure that involves implanting a small, synthetic Collamer lens called a phakic intraocular lens (IOL) into the eye. The EVO ICL is known as a phakic lens because it is placed between the iris and the natural lens, correcting refractive errors by focusing light correctly on the retina. EVO ICLs are suitable for individuals with severe myopia or thin corneas who may not be eligible for laser refractive surgeries like LASIK. To learn more about the EVO-ICL please visit Discover EVO-ICL.
- Corneal Inlay Procedures. Corneal inlays, such as the Kamra Inlay Procedure, are small, transparent devices implanted in the cornea to improve near and intermediate vision for individuals with presbyopia. These corneal inlays work by increasing the depth of focus of the eye, allowing for improved reading and intermediate vision without compromising distance vision.
- Refractive Lens Exchange/Clear Lens Exchange (RLE/CLE). Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE), also known as Clear Lens Exchange (CLE), involves replacing the eye's natural lens with an artificial intraocular lens (IOL) to correct refractive errors such as myopia, hyperopia, and presbyopia. RLE/CLE surgery is similar to cataract surgery but is performed for vision correction purposes rather than cataract removal. Please visit our Lens Implant-IOLs discussion to learn more.
- Astigmatic Incisions. Astigmatic incisions, including Arcuate Incisions and Limbal Relaxing Incisions (LRIs) are a surgical approach to correct astigmatism. During this type of procedure, an eye surgeon makes incisions in the cornea to reshape it and correct the irregular curvature causing astigmatism. Please visit our Astigmatic Incisions and Limbal Relaxing Incisions discussion pages to learn more.
We recommend consulting with an ophthalmologist who offer more than LASIK so that you and your eye surgeon can consider a more complete range of vision correction options to help ensure you select the vision correct procedure most suited to you, your lifestyle, your eyes, and the vision correction you seek to achieve.
LASIK Eye Surgery Cost: What Is Total Price for LASIK?
- Best of Both Worlds: How to Save Money on LASIK and Use an Expert Eye Surgeon. Choosing an expert LASIK surgeon like the ones you can find in our directory may be more affordable than you think. You can have the best of both worlds when it comes to LASIK: using an expert surgeon at a more affordable price than you may think. Many LASIK surgery centers that seem like they are offering a low price for LASIK are not telling you the entire story. Please visit our True Cost of LASIK discussion to learn more.
- LASIK Price Consumer Checklist. We also have a free resource of questions you can ask a LASIK practice about what they charge for LASIK. This resource concerning the cost of LASIK provides a checklist of questions for consumers are considering LASIK to ensure you have a clearer understanding of what fees are being charged and what is or is not included in your LASIK surgery treatment. Many of the questions in this checklist are applicable to other laser eye surgery procedures such as PRK. Please download our LASIK Price Consumer Checklist with our compliments
Below are additional resources to learn more about LASIK:
- National Library of Medicine Article: “The 25th Anniversary of Laser Vision Correction in the United States.” This article covers a solid overview of LASIK with statistics and information about the advancements, success and safety of LASIK and other laser vision correction procedures like PRK over the last 25 years. This article also provides interesting background material about the history and progress of laser vision correction surgery.
- Food and Drug Administration (FDA): resources available at FDA- LASIK on the FDA website.
- American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO)
LASIK eye surgery has revolutionized vision correction and provided millions of individuals with improved visual acuity and reduced reliance on corrective eyewear. The procedure offers numerous benefits, including high patient satisfaction rates, quick recovery, and long-lasting results. However, potential risks and complications should be carefully considered, and patients should undergo thorough preoperative evaluations. With continued advancements in technology and surgical techniques, LASIK eye care continues to be a reliable and effective option for many individuals seeking to improve their vision and enhance their quality of life.
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