Let’s be honest: sometimes, glasses and contact lenses can be a pain.
Glasses can break, scratch, fog up and contacts can dry out and dry your eyes. Your vision is a big part of how you live each day, so you deserve the best. LASIK is a great option for many people who have refractive errors in their vision.
What Is LASIK?
LASIK eye surgery is probably the most well-known eye procedure in North America. LASIK is usually performed to correct a refractive error in your vision, such as:
- Myopia (nearsightedness): occurs when the eye focuses light in front of the retina making it hard to see far away
- Hyperopia (farsightedness): occurs when the eye focuses light behind the retina making it harder to see up close
- Astigmatism: occur when the cornea has an imperfect curvature, usually leading to blurry vision regardless of distance
The operation involves creating a small incision on the corneal surface of your eye using a microkeratome scalpel or femtosecond laser. Once this is done, the flap will fold back to reveal your corneal stroma.
Your ophthalmologist will likely use an excimer laser to reshape the underlying corneal stroma to correct your refraction. Afterward, the ophthalmologist will put the flap back in place.
Your eye care team will book subsequent check-up appointments with you to monitor the healing process.
Difference Between LASIK & PRK
LASIK is a great option to correct refractive errors in your vision, but it’s not the only option available. Photorefractive keratectomy (PRK) is another procedure used to correct refractive errors.
The key difference between LASIK and PRK is how the ophthalmologist accesses the corneal stroma. Instead of creating a flap (like in LASIK), the epithelium* is removed and the laser is directed to the anterior stromal layers of your eye. After surgery, the epithelium grows back over 3 to 5 days.
PRK is a great alternative to LASIK for people who have thin corneas or an active lifestyle. For those who are active on a daily basis, there is some concern about dislodging the LASIK flap after surgery. It’s best to ask your doctor which procedure is right for you.
* The epithelium is a layer of soft tissue cells covering the cornea that protects the inner eye from bacteria and free fluids. It functions as a skin-like layer and barrier covering the cornea.
What is LASEK?
LASEK is a variation of PRK and LASIK.
The key difference between LASEK and other procedures is the ophthalmologist saves the epithelium to fold back in place after surgery is finished. The recovery time of LASEK is 2 weeks which is longer than PRK and LASIK. LASEK is sometimes recommended for minor corrections on patients with thin or steep corneas.
Benefits of LASIK
We know the main benefit of LASIK eye surgery is that it corrects your vision.
In fact, 96% of patients report having their desired vision after their surgery. This number can increase with additional enhancements depending on the individual. LASIK offers other great benefits, such as:
- Minimal discomfort during the procedure by using numbing drops
- Immediate, or next day, vision correction
- Eliminating the need for bandages & stitches after surgery
- Allowing for future vision corrections (if needed)
The goal after LASIK is that you won’t need your eyeglasses or contact lenses as much, if at all.
Side Effects & Possible Complications
As with any procedure, there can be side effects and possible complications. Side effects are to be expected in some capacity, while complications are ideally avoided but can occur in some patients.
Fortunately, LASIK has an incredibly high success and satisfaction rate, so the likelihood of something going wrong during your procedure is low. Our team will review all relevant risks with you, during which time you can ask any questions you have about the procedure.
When Should I Get LASIK?
The best age to get LASIK depends on your eye health, any medical conditions or concerns, as well as other factors.
It’s generally recommended to avoid getting LASIK until after you’ve turned 22 years old. Your eye prescription can change until you’re about 20 years of age, so it’s best to wait. Getting LASIK between the ages of 22 and 40 is usually considered to be the ideal time frame. In most individuals, between 22 and 40, the prescription should have stabilized which makes LASIK more effective and long lasting.
While there isn’t an “age limit” on getting LASIK, there are additional factors to consider. As our eyes age, we become more prone to conditions like cataracts, glaucoma and dry eye. These factors, and other health concerns, can affect your candidacy for LASIK.
It’s best to consult your eye care provider to find the right treatment for you.
Is LASIK Right for Me?
LASIK is an excellent option for people looking to improve their vision safely and quickly. Your eyes are unique, so it’s important to evaluate the right option for you with your optometrist. For questions about LASIK and information about where to start, reach out to our team today.