Offered at our eye care center in Raleigh, NC, LASIK stands for laser in-situ keratomileusis. This is a new form of refractive surgery that is a combination procedure, meaning it has two steps:
A flap is created on the cornea (the clear “window” at the front of the eye) with either an instrument called a microkeratome or a femtosecond (bladeless) laser.
The Excimer Laser is used to reshape the cornea under the flap.
After the laser treatment, the flap is replaced and protects the treatment area. This allows a wider range of prescriptions to be treated. Since the treatment area is under the flap, the vision recovers more rapidly and there is less discomfort.
Both LASIK and PRK (Photorefractive Keratectomy) use the Excimer Laser to reshape the cornea to reduce nearsightedness. With the PRK, the laser is used on the surface of the cornea, and in LASIK, the laser is used under a protective flap of corneal tissue. Having the treatment area on the surface of the cornea creates a longer healing time and can take several weeks to achieve good vision. With the treatment area under the protective flap in LASIK, the eye heals faster and visual recovery is quicker.
With our Raleigh PRK, steroid drops are sometimes needed for several months. With the LASIK procedure, enhancements are easier since the flap can be re-lifted for a period of time without requiring use of the microkeratome, or femtosecond (bladeless) laser. RK (Radial Keratotomy) is an incisional form of refractive surgery. A delicate diamond blade is used to create thin incisions on the front surface of the cornea. The incisions are made in a radial pattern, like the spokes of a wheel. The central part of the cornea is not treated.
The length and amount of incisions are determined by the patient’s age and glasses prescriptions. A variation of RK is AK (Astigmatic Keratotomy). Making incisions only in the steepest parts of the cornea can treat astigmatism.
LASIK uses both the Excimer Laser and a microkeratome or femtosecond (bladeless) laser together. The Excimer Laser has been used since the mid 1980s and in 1995 received the FDA approval for PRK, a procedure where the cornea or front surface of the eye is reshaped. Physicians have been creating a protective flap of tissue for over 30 years. In 1991, these two techniques were combined to create the LASIK procedure that is used in refractive surgery. The LASIK procedure has been used most widely outside the United States, where government regulatory oversight is not as stringent. It has been under investigation by the FDA since 1995 and is now approved.
Yes, it can treat all three. The LASIK procedure treats nearsightedness by flattening the cornea, farsightedness by steepening the cornea, and astigmatism by rounding out the cornea to be more spherical rather than “football” shaped.
Our LASIK eye surgery in Raleigh is very easy from the patient’s perspective. It takes about five to 10 minutes per eye and is done under topical “eye drop” anesthesia. There is minimal discomfort, and each eye can be done much closer together than PRK or RK, often at the same time. The post-operative course of medication is much less, and there is usually no need for a bandage contact lenses. Visual recovery is very fast,with some patients reporting increased vision as soon as the procedure is finished. Patients often have 20/40 or better vision by the 24-hour postoperative visit.
The LASIK procedure requires more surgeon skill than PRK, because the flap must be made before the laser can be performed. Therefore, having good microsurgical skills such as those required in cataract surgery helps in performing LASIK. Both procedures are a form of microsurgery. A skilled cataract surgeon can more easily make the transition to LASIK because of his or her experience.
As with any surgical procedure, there are some risks with LASIK. They include: undercorrection, overcorrection, corneal abrasion, infection, irregularities of the flap, halos and glares, and other problems. Most complications can be treated and are not long term. The possible risks and complications will be discussed with you at the time of your consultation.
Raleigh Eye Center proudly provides professional eye care services and LASIK surgery in Raleigh and surrounding areas, including Durham, Apex, Cary, Wake Forest, Chapel Hill, Fuquay-Varina and Garner, NC. Contact us if you have further questions.