LASIK Surgery Information
Dr. Shofner, trusted LASIK surgeon in Nashville has performed more than 30,000 LASIK surgeries on Middle Tennesseans. We never pressure our patients to have surgery and offer patients all of their options to improve their vision.
What is LASIK?
Laser in situ keratomileusis, or LASIK, is an outpatient surgical procedure used to treat myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), and astigmatism. With LASIK, your ophthalmologist (Eye M.D.) uses a laser to reshape the cornea (the clear covering of the eye) to improve the way the eye focuses light onto the retina. View All Vision Correction Procedures by Shofner.
Am I a Good Candidate for LASIK?
Dr. Shofner and his staff will advise you about certain conditions that may prevent you from being a good candidate for this procedure.
For instance, the ideal candidate for LASIK is over 18 years of age, not pregnant or nursing, and free of any eye disease. You should not have had a change in your eye prescription in the last year and should have a refractive error within the range of correction for LASIK. Read more: What is 3D Custom LASIK? What is Mono Vision? Ask about the all laser "bladeless" Z-LASIK procedure.
What Happens Before LASIK Surgery?
Dr. Shofner and his staff will perform a thorough eye exam to measure your prescription and check for any abnormalities that might affect the procedure. Your doctor will check your eyes for unusual dryness, which could cause dry eye symptoms post-operatively, or unusually large pupils, which could affect night or low-light vision.
How is LASIK Performed?
LASIK is performed with the patient reclining under the laser in an outpatient surgical suite. First, the eye is numbed with a few drops of topical anesthetic. These drops may sting. An eyelid holder (called a speculum) is placed between the eyelids to keep them open and prevent you from blinking.
A suction ring placed on the eye lifts and flattens the cornea and helps you keep your eye from moving. You may feel pressure from the eyelid holder and suction ring, similar to a finger pressed firmly on your eyelid. From the time the suction ring is put on the eye until it is removed, vision appears dim or goes black.
Dr. Shofner will use an automated microsurgical instrument called a microkeratome to make a flap in your cornea. This device is attached to the suction ring. As the microkeratome blade moves around the cornea, you will hear a buzzing sound. The microkeratome stops at a preset point, far enough from the edge of the cornea to create a hinged flap of paper-thin corneal tissue. The microkeratome and the suction ring are removed from your eye, and the flap is lifted and folded back.
Some ophthalmologists use a specific laser instrument instead of a bladed microkeratome to make the flap in your cornea. With this technique, tiny, quick pulses of laser light are applied to your cornea. Each light pulse passes through the top layers of your cornea and forms a microscopic bubble at a specific depth and position within your cornea. Your Eye M.D. then creates a flap in the cornea by gently separating the tissue where the bubbles have formed. The corneal flap is then folded back.
As the flap is moved aside, your vision gets blurrier. Then a special laser for sculpting the cornea with measurements customized to your eye is centered above the eye. In most cases, a pupil tracker will be used to keep the laser centered on your pupil during surgery.
You will stare at a special pinpoint light called a fixation light or target light while laser sculpts the exposed corneal tissue. The laser makes a clicking sound you can hear during the procedure. After the laser has completed reshaping the cornea, the surgeon places the flap back into position and smoothens the edges. The flap adheres on its own in two or three minutes.
What Happens After LASIK Surgery?
To help protect your cornea as it heals, your ophthalmologist will give you goggles to wear for the first day and especially at night so you don't rub your eye. It is normal for your eye to have a burning sensation or feel "scratchy." This usually disappears in a few hours. Plan on going home and taking a nap or just relaxing after the procedure. You will be given eye drops to help the eye to heal and to alleviate dryness. Healing after LASIK is usually more comfortable than with other methods of refractive surgery because the laser removes tissue from the inside of the cornea and not from the more sensitive corneal surface.
What are the Risks, Complications and Side Effects?
LASIK, like any surgery, has risks and complications that should be carefully considered. LASIK can sometimes result in under-correction or over-correction. Fortunately, these problems can often be improved with glasses, contact lenses or an additional laser surgery.
Most complications can be treated without any loss of vision. Permanent vision loss is very rare. There is a chance, though extremely small, that your vision will not be as good after the surgery as before, even with glasses or contacts. This is called a "loss of best-corrected vision."
Some people experience temporary side effects after LASIK that usually disappear over time. In rare situations, they may be permanent. These side effects may include:
- discomfort or pain
- hazy or blurry vision
- halos or starbursts around lights
- light sensitivity
- small pink or red patches on the white of the eye
Almost everyone experiences some dryness in the eyes and fluctuating vision during the day. These symptoms usually fade within one month, although some people may continue to have symptoms for a longer period of time. Infection is a small possibility with any surgical procedure, including LASIK. Antibiotics can usually clear up such infections. Rarely, complications during surgery may cause irregularities in the corneal flap, requiring further treatment.
What Will My Vision Be Like After LASIK?
It is important that anyone considering LASIK have realistic expectations. LASIK allows people to perform most of their everyday tasks without glasses or contacts.
More than 90 percent of people who have LASIK achieve somewhere between 20/20 and 20/40 vision without glasses or contact lenses. If the procedure results in an under or over correction, your doctor may decide to perform a second surgery, called an enhancement, to further refine the result.
LASIK cannot correct presbyopia, the age-related loss of close-up focusing power. With or without refractive surgery, almost everyone who has excellent vision will need reading glasses by the time they are 45 or 50. Some people choose a vision correction method called mono vision, which leaves one eye slightly nearsighted. The nearsighted eye is used for close work, while the other eye is adjusted for distance vision.
Although mono vision is acceptable for most people, some may not be comfortable with this correction. To determine your individual needs and your ability to adapt to this correction, you may wish to try mono vision with contact lenses before surgery.
If 20/20 vision is essential for your job or leisure activities, consider whether 20/40 vision would be good enough for you. You should be comfortable with the possibility that you may need a second surgery or that you might need to wear glasses for certain activities, such as reading or driving at night.
20/20 LASIK Guarantees
Be careful of advertisements for 20/20 Guarantees for LASIK surgery. The
Trade Commission states, "As for promises of 20/20 vision — no doctor can make that guarantee". Further, the US Food and Drug Administration states: "Be wary of eye centers that advertise, 20/20 vision or your money back or package deals. There are never any guarantees in medicine."
Today's LASIK procedure is the most popular form of refractive surgery for decreasing dependence on eyeglasses or contact lenses. If LASIK surgery is appropriate for your eyes, you could join thousands of people who have benefited from this widely performed procedure. To make the decision that's right for you, discuss with your ophthalmologist whether or not you make a good candidate for LASIK.
Learn more about the Most Affordable LASIK Surgery in Nashville, TN.