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Refractive Surgery: LASIK

LASIK (pronounced "LAY-sik") stands for laser in-situ keratomileusis. It's a technique for reshaping corneal tissue to help you see better without glasses or corrective lenses. This procedure uses an excimer laser, which produces a concentrated beam of cool ultraviolet (UV) light. Each pulse of the laser can remove a tiny portion of corneal tissue. LASIK can be used to correct hyperopia (farsightedness), myopia (nearsightedness), and astigmatism (vision distortions caused by irregularities in the cornea).

Eye showing cornea and flap

Eye showing laser beam

Eye showing a reshaped cornea and replaced flap

What to Expect During the Procedure

  • Before treatment, you may be given medication to help you relax.

  • Eyedrops numb your eyes. A device is used to keep your eyes open.

  • You may feel light pressure, but no pain, as your surgeon creates the flap in your epithelium (top layer of the cornea). The flap is folded back, remaining attached to the cornea.

  • Your surgeon uses a computer-guided excimer laser to reshape the cornea. Laser treatment lasts for 10–90  seconds.

  • The flap is put back into place. The corneal tissue sticks to itself while it heals.

  • After treatment, your vision will start to improve right away. It should become stable in 1–3 months.

Pros of LASIK

  • Little, if any, postoperative pain

  • Fast recovery

  • Very accurate, even for severe refractive problems

  • Serious postoperative haze unlikely

  • Structure of cornea remains intact

Cons of LASIK

  • Risk of flap complications, infection, or inflammation

  • Risk of blurred or distorted vision

  • Possible temporary or permanent dry eye

  • Risk of night vision problems, such as halos, glare, or starbursts

  • Possible undercorrection or overcorrection

  • Possible loss of best corrected vision

Online Source: Food and Drug Administration. What Should I Expect? <a href="" target="_blank"></a>
Online Source: Food and Drug Administration. What are the Risks? <a href="" target="_blank"></a>
Online Source: Food and Drug Administration. What is Laskik? <a href="" target="_blank"></a>
Online Editor: Metzger, Geri
Online Medical Reviewer: Bogus, William J, OD, FAAO
Online Medical Reviewer: Fraser, Marianne, MSN, RN
Date Last Reviewed: 2/5/2013
Date Last Modified: 2/12/2013
© 2000-2015 The StayWell Company, LLC. 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.