One of the first uses of lasers in medicine was as a high-precision substitute for scalpels in eye surgery. The technology led to the first LASIK surgery in the United States in 1991. The eye care professionals at the Witlin Center for Advanced Eye Care, serving East Brunswick, Toms River, and Morristown, New Jersey, are experts in providing not only LASIK procedures but also many of the other, similar procedures performed with lasers. Call or click today to schedule a consultation.
An abbreviation for laser in-situ keratomileusis, the LASIK procedure uses one or two lasers to correct astigmatism, nearsightedness, or farsightedness by reshaping the corneal tissue of your eye. Just as an optician forms an eyeglass lens into a precise shape to bend light, so does your surgeon reshape your cornea to accomplish the same goal.
However, with successful LASIK surgery, you’ll no longer need to wear glasses or contacts, since your vision correction is “built-in.”
The LASIK procedure is not the first corrective eye surgery to use lasers, but it’s the first that didn’t require eye tissue to be removed completely. The “in situ” part of the LASIK acronym means “in place.” The LASIK procedure uses a flap cut into the cornea, either using a fine metal blade or a femtosecond laser – often called “blade-free” LASIK.
A computer-controlled excimer laser, programmed to your precise corrective prescription, then reshapes the inner corneal tissue. The flap is then closed and since your cornea remains in one piece, recovery time is much faster than other techniques.
LASIK surgery has very low risk of complications. Of the more than 16 million procedures done in the United States, patient satisfaction rates around 96%, with incidences of complications remaining below 1%. To compare, rates of infection due to LASIK surgery is about one-third the level found among extended wear contact lens users. There has never been a case where LASIK surgery is the main cause of blindness.
The laser vision correction procedure itself takes about 30 minutes. You’ll receive numbing eye drops, and your eyelids will be held open with a special device. The corneal flap is cut with a mechanical or a laser keratome, and the pressure needed with either method is typically the most uncomfortable part of the procedure, but it’s not painful.
As the excimer laser reshapes your cornea, you’ll be asked to fix your gaze on a target light. There’s no need to worry about minor eye movements because your eye position is measured thousands of times each second and the laser’s controlling computer compensates.
At the end of the procedure, the corneal flap is closed, and you’re given care instructions. Full recovery takes up to two months, but you can resume non-strenuous activities in one or two days.