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LASIK: A good alternative for a 20/40 vision

LASIK (Laser-Assisted in situ Keratomileusis) is commonly known as laser vision correction; a refractive surgery for removal of myopia, hyperopia and astigmatism. It is performed by an ophthalmologist as a permanent alternative to reading glasses or contact lenses. But for some patients with moderate to high myopia or thin corneas, LASIK might not be the solution.

The shape and thickness of your cornea, pupil size, refractive errors (myopia, hyperopia and astigmatism) and other eye conditions are kept in mind before the doctor determines the requirement of this surgery. You will have to stop wearing contact lenses for nearly two weeks before the eyes are examined for the LASIK procedure, as they can alter the natural shape of the cornea.

A highly specialized laser is used to remove microscopic amounts of tissue from the cornea to reshape it, focusing on the light entering the eye for an improved vision.

For nearsighted patients, the cornea is flattened and for the farsighted, it is made steeper. Astigmatism too can be corrected by smoothening an irregular cornea into a normal shape. Once done, the flap is placed back to cover the area where the corneal tissue was removed, and left to heal naturally.  This surgery only requires external anesthetic drops.

A certain degree of moistness is maintained in the eyes during the surgery reducing the risk of developing dry eyes after LASIK. One is discharged right after the surgery but needs to rest the eyes and abstain from any arduous exercise for at least seven days, since undue exertion can adversely affect the restorative process. Do not rub the eyes as there is a slight risk of displacing the corneal flap, instead take medication to relax it.

Generally the surgery is pain-free and is completed within 15 minutes for both eyes.

The results start showing after 24 hours and will continue to improve over the next few days, but in rare cases it may take several weeks or even longer.

You will have to visit your eye surgeon the day after surgery. This check-up will verify your visual acuity to be legally allowed to drive without glasses or contact lenses, as required vision is uncorrected 20/40 or better.

Laser eye surgery alters one’s lifestyle dramatically since most people achieve 20/20 vision or better after it, but the results vary. You might still need to wear glasses or contact lenses even after the correction, though your prescription levels will become lower than before.

For some, post-operative complications can occur e.g. infection or night glare which is mostly noticeable at night, while driving.

Only a very small percentage of people will opt for further enhancement in vision. Due to a common age-linked diminution of near vision called presbyopia, reading glasses may still be required once in your 40s. While LASIK surgery is usually successful, it is imperative that you ascertain all the important facts from a surgeon before opting for it.