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LASIK eye surgery
By Kristen Mulvihill
Scheie Vision Annual Report 2019

For more than 20 years, the Scheie Eye Institute has offered patients exceptional refractive care to correct a variety of vision problems. Scheie offers several types of refractive surgeries, including PRK, Phakic-IOL, and LASIK, highlighted below.

Scheie’s highly-qualified cornea specialists – Michael E. Sulewski, MD, and Stephen E. Orlin, MD – use the most advanced laser technology to provide optimal results. Tired of wearing glasses or contact lenses, and looking for a permanent solution to your vision problems? Here are some questions to consider with your ophthalmologist to determine if LASIK is right for you. 

What is LASIK?

Laser Assisted In-Situ Keratomileusis (LASIK) is a type of refractive surgery used to correct vision problems, including myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), and astigmatism (an imperfection in the eye’s curvature). The procedure is intended to reduce an individual’s dependency on glasses or contact lenses, as it permanently alters the shape of the cornea. This change of shape enables the cornea to more precisely focus light onto the retina for clearer vision. 

Am I eligible for LASIK? 

The ideal candidate for LASIK surgery must:
Be at least 21 years old
Not be pregnant or breastfeeding, as hormonal changes during pregnancy can temporarily alter the shape of the cornea 
Not have an autoimmune disease, which can prevent proper healing after the procedure
Have stable vision and healthy eyes, with no history of glaucoma, cataracts, chronic dry eye disease, or other significant eye problems

What should I expect before the procedure? 

Before receiving LASIK, you are required to schedule an appointment with your ophthalmologist to receive a comprehensive eye exam. During this visit, your physician will also discuss the eligibility criteria for the surgery, the risks and benefits of LASIK, and what to expect during and after the procedure. You should also arrange transportation on the days of your procedure and your follow-up visit, as you will not be permitted to drive until after your follow-up visit. 

What happens during the procedure? 

During LASIK surgery, your ophthalmologist will place anesthetic drops in your eyes to numb the cornea. Although the procedure is painless, you may experience some pressure around your eye. During the surgery, your eyelids will be held open by an instrument called a lid speculum. The procedure involves making a thin flap in the cornea with a femtosecond laser. This precisely cut, small flap will remain attached to the cornea by a hinge, and will be gently folded back to expose the underlying cornea. 

An excimer laser will be used to reshape the cornea to achieve the desired vision correction. The flap will then be put back in place without stitches, and the cornea will be given time to heal naturally. The entire procedure is typically completed in thirty minutes or less. 

What is the recovery process like? 

Following your LASIK surgery, your ophthalmologist will perform a brief post-operative eye exam. It is common to feel a slight itching, burning, or gritty sensation in your eyes immediately after the procedure, but this sensitivity should subside quickly. Eye drops and artificial tears will be prescribed by your doctor, which will help accelerate the healing process and prevent infection. 

Once your ophthalmologist confirms the surgery’s success, you will be discharged. For several days following your LASIK surgery, you should refrain from participating in strenuous exercise and contact sports and from wearing eye makeup.

Your first follow-up visit typically occurs the day after your surgery. At this visit, your ophthalmologist will ensure that your vision is within the legal standard for driving, and you will be cleared to drive. 

Approximately a week after your surgery, you will meet with your ophthalmologist again to ensure your eyes are healing properly. During this visit, your doctor will determine if additional follow-up appointments are necessary. 

What are the advantages of LASIK, and when will I notice results?

You will begin to notice improvements in your vision immediately following the procedure. Although your vision will likely be blurry and hazy initially, your vision should continue to stabilize and improve over the next several days. Depending on your eyesight prior to the surgery, 20/20 vision is attainable with LASIK. 

The surgery requires no bandages or stitches, and patients can typically resume their normal schedule within 24 hours of the surgery. Most patients experience a dramatic reduction in the need for glasses or contact lenses following the surgery. 

What are the risks and side effects associated with LASIK? 

LASIK surgery can dramatically improve your vision and quality of life. However, like any other medical procedure, there are some risks and side effects associated with LASIK. You may experience the following issues after surgery, though they typically resolve over time:

Dry eyes
Double vision or glare, especially at night
Corneal infection and/or inflammation
Impaired nighttime vision 
Under or over correction, which would require the use of glasses or contact lenses to improve vision
Surgical complications that may lead to vision loss or vision changes 

What are some alternatives to LASIK? 

PRK (photorefractive keratectomy) is an alternative to LASIK in which the first layer of the cornea is gently removed. An excimer laser is then utilized to reshape the cornea to eliminate refractive error. A contact lens is placed onto the treated eye to protect the cornea as it heals for three to five days. Though recovery from PRK usually takes a bit longer than LASIK, patients typically experience the same visual results.

Phakic-IOLs (phakic intraocular lenses) may benefit patients who are not suitable candidates for laser vision correction because their prescription is too high or other measurements are not compatible. Phakic-IOL is an implantable lens that is surgically placed in the eye to correct moderate to severe myopia. A small slit is made in the cornea and a thin, artificial lens is placed in front of the eye’s natural lens. The lens is centered behind the pupil and is naturally held in place. Patients do not feel the lens, and this option offers permanent vision correction, unless the lens is surgically removed.

For more information about LASIK eye surgery, or to inquire about your eligibility for this procedure, please call 215.662.8100.

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