The Mystery of LASIK Surgery – What Really Happens Behind the Closed Door? If you are like many of us, the idea of LASIK surgery is met with a mixture of consternation and an uneasy feeling about someone, or something, messing with your eyeballs. The feeling is met with logical and somewhat alarming questions, such as: • Will it hurt? How much pain is involved? • What exactly are they going to do to my eyes? • Will I never see again? How much risk is involved? • Do they cut my eyes open? • How long does it take to recover? • Is it expensive? • Is this whole ordeal really worth all the trouble? To anyone not familiar with the procedure have legitimate questions, but also some innate misconceptions regarding the process. I think any LASIK surgeon would tell you these questions and feelings are quite normal. Where do you begin? Free Consultation The first step towards deciding if LASIK is right for you is a free consultation with a LASIK surgeon. This consultation is informative and can alleviate certain doubts through a direct Q&A with practitioners and a surgeon. During a consultation, you can expect to have an eye exam done for a number of reasons. The main reason is for your eyes to be mapped. Individual eye mapping allows for a diagnostic evaluation of each of your eyes. You may have to have a different procedure done for each eye to gain 20/20 vision. The mapping also allows surgeons to identify if you are a candidate for LASIK surgery. Some individuals can be advised against further procedures, like individuals with astigmatism for instance. It is possible for a surgeon to deny a patient the opportunity for surgery. Choosing the Method If you are selected as a candidate for surgery, the different methods will be discussed with you about what procedure is best for your eyes. The more well known procedure is called LASIK, meaning Laser-Assisted In Situ Keratomileusis. Another procedure used regularly is called PRK, or Photo Refractive Keratectomy. To eliminate any confusion, let’s discuss how the procedures differ from one another. LASIK uses a very small knife, called a microkeratome knife, and a laser called an excimer laser. You may not be aware of this, but there is a thin layer of transparent skin on top of each of your eyes. This skin is called corneal tissue. In the LASIK procedure, a flap is created from the corneal tissue over your eye. This flap of tissue is flipped up, followed by the excimer laser penetrating your eye through your cornea. This laser reshapes your corneal tissue so you will have 20/20 vision after the procedure. This part of the procedure averages about one minute, sometimes less. Upon completion, the corneal flap will be placed back over your cornea. The entire procedure takes approximately 15 minutes.
PRK uses a sterile brush to take away corneal tissue, rather than cutting a flap. After this is completed, the same excimer laser as in the LASIK procedure will reshape your corneal tissue. Anesthetic drops are often used to eliminate any pain involved with the PRK procedure. This procedure takes approximately 15 minutes as well. LASIK is primarily chosen for individuals who have thicker corneal tissue. Thicker corneal tissue is necessary to create a corneal tissue flap, which is a requirement of the LASIK procedure. PRK is more suited for those who have less corneal tissue, which is discerned through eye mapping during your consultation. In PRK, corneal tissue will be brushed away rather than creating a flap. Recovery In the LASIK procedure, recovery time is very quick. The flap of corneal tissue sets over your eye in just a few days. You can expect to be able to drive and go to work 2 to 3 days after the procedure. Many individuals schedule surgery for a Friday and are back to work on Monday with 20/20 vision or better. Unlike LASIK, the PRK procedure requires corneal tissue to be brushed. The result is that your corneal tissue must grow back. Often, you can drive within a weekâ€™s time from the date of surgery. The full sharpness of 20/20 vision or better regularly occurs 6 to 8 weeks from the date of surgery. It is not uncommon for one individual to need LASIK in one eye and PRK in the other, resulting in two procedures done for one individual. Do the Procedures Hurt? In some cases, mild discomfort has been described from individuals. The likelihood of discomfort is more prevalent for the PRK procedure due to the growing of corneal tissue. Discomfort typically lasts for a few days after the date of surgery for PRK patients. It is highly unlikely any pain will be experienced during or after surgery for LASIK patients. Is It Worth It? This depends on how highly you value perfect vision. The cost depends on the procedure, with LASIK typically the more expensive procedure. On average LASIK will run between $1500 and $2000 per eye. However, LASIK eye surgery is being covered by insurance companies at a higher rate than ever. Donâ€™t let fear be the reason to step away from a LASIK procedure. Talk to patients who have had these procedures done. Read testimonials from different LASIK surgeons in your area. Patients who have had a LASIK procedure done do not regret the decision. Once an individual has a LASIK procedure done, the worst case scenario is they may need reading glasses in 30+ years. Read reviews, get a free consultation, and then decide if LASIK is the right choice for you.