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Understanding LASIK Eye Surgery

(Click here for Spanish version)


The cornea works like a camera, focusing light to create an image on the retina. The eyes turn light into images by bending or refracting them. When the shape of the cornea and the eye are not perfect, the image on the retina is blurred or distorted. These imperfections of the cornea are called refractive errors. Myopia, hyperopia and astigmatism are the three primary types of refractive errors. Persons with myopia, or nearsightedness, have more difficulty seeing distant objects as clearly as near objects. Persons with hyperopia, or farsightedness,have more difficulty seeing near objects as clearly as distant objects. Astigmatism is a distortion of the image on the retina caused by irregularities in the cornea or lens of the eye.

LASIK Procedures
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It is not unusual to have combinations of myopia and astigmatism or hyperopia and astigmatism. Glasses or contact lenses are worn to compensate for the eye's imperfections. Now there are more options than just corrective eye wear. Refractive surgery procedures have been developed and are aimed at improving the focusing power of the eye. LASIK (Laser In-Situ Keratomileusis) is one type of refractive surgery that uses precise and controlled removal of corneal tissue to reshape the cornea, changing its focusing power.

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The Benefits

There are many benefits to LASIK, some of which include fast visual recovery, limited if any discomfort, and a lowered risk of glare and halos. Most patients are very happy with the results. It's no wonder that LASIK laser vision correction has quickly emerged as one of the true medical breakthroughs of modern history.LASIK, the most accepted form of laser vision correction, is the fastest-growing type of refractive surgery. It is very versatile and can treat both nearsightedness and farsightedness with or without astigmatism. Over 98% of people who have LASIK achieve somewhere between 20/20 and 20/40 vision without glasses or contact lenses.

At Your Consultation

If you have not already done so at a screening evaluation, a complete medical and eye history will be taken. This will include a review of your health and medical conditions, medications you are taking, allergies as well as a discussion of your ocular health and status including your vision correction history. It will be necessary for you to communicate any medical or eye conditions or diseases that have been diagnosed or treated among your family members.

A technician will begin taking a number of measurements. These will include your visual acuity with and without your current method of vision correction, whether that is glasses or contacts. A digital map of your corneal shape--called corneal topography--will be taken. A measurement of your pupils will be performed as detailed later. In order to get final measurements of the prescription your prescription will be measured both in its natural state and after having drops placed in your eyes. A test will be performed to see which eye is your dominant eye, and most important, the thickness of your cornea will be measured to make sure you are indeed ready for LASIK. Additional testing including your intraocular pressure will be conducted and observations will be made of the health of your cornea, lens and tear film using an instrument called a slit lamp. This is actually a microscope through which living tissue can be carefully examined. After the drops have had their full effect, the doctor will examine the health of your retina and optic nerves in order to give your eyes a "clean bill of health" for LASIK.

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What to Expect During Your LASIK Surgery

When you arrive at the practice on your day of surgery, you should expect to have the staff begin to both prepare you for your treatment, and to make you comfortable. First, if you have not already done so, you will need to sign a statement of informed consent which says that you have had the opportunity to ask questions, that they have been answered, that the risks, benefits and possible complications of your treatment have been reviewed and discussed with you, that you have considered alternatives such as glasses and contact lenses and that after considering all of this information you have made the decision to proceed. Before signing the informed consent, make sure to ask any final questions and have the answers that you need. Next, a staff member will begin putting a series of eye drops in your eyes. Some of these are to numb your eyes so that you are comfortable, some are antibiotics to prevent any risk of infection, and depending on your treatment, some may be to dilate your pupil. After a few minutes you will be accompanied into the laser suite. Don't be alarmed if it seems like there are a number of people doing things in the laser suite. They are all just doing their jobs of getting things ready for your surgery. You will be asked to sit and recline on a comfortable bed-like chair or platform and some additional numbing drops will be placed in your eyes. The surgeon or staff will clean the area around your eye by using a small sterile pad and some liquid to gently scrub your eyelids and adjacent areas.

You will be awake and able to communicate for this very brief procedure. It lasts about 15-30 minutes. A delicate instrument, called a microkeratome, is used to create a very thin flap of corneal tissue. Once this tissue flap is created, the surgeon positions the laser beam over the eye, directing light pulses to achieve the desired correction. The flap is carefully placed back in its original position. Because of the way the eye is formed, no stitches will be necessary. You will be given eye drops to help the eye to heal and to alleviate dryness. Healing time is minimal and after two or so hours of rest the results will be apparent. For some patients recovery may take longer.

To schedule your FREE laser vision correction evaluation call Ellis Eye and Laser Medical Center at 1-800-733-7427. Our clinics are located in San Francisco CA, San Jose, Walnut Creek, El Cerrito, Roseville, Mill Valley and Sacramento California.

Are You a Candidate? If you would like to know if you are a LASIK candidate you can start by taking our LASIK Self-Evaluation TEST. Click HERE!

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