Laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis.
You’ve probably not familiar with that particular medical procedure (at least by name), but it’s almost a guarantee that you know what happens during it. Ever heard of LASIK laser eye surgery? That’s the long, complicated, medical-speak version of its name. Contrary to popular belief, though, medical professionals don’t just make up fancy names for procedures for the heck of it. Each term has its own specific definition in relation to its function, for example:
- Laser-assisted: Utilizing state-of-the-art laser technologies
- In situ: Latin for “in position,” refers to where the surgery takes place
- Keratomileusis: Improving the functionality of the cornea
Since 2011, LASIK eye treatment has been the most popular form of elective surgery in the United States. More than 11 million procedures have been performed, which means more than 22 million eyes are now seeing more clearly without the aid of corrective contact lenses or eyeglasses. LASIK’s been around since the 1990s, and in that 20-year period, ocular medicine has seen some of its greatest advancements — faster lasers and more precision incision methods, to name a few.
If you’re thinking about contacting LASIK eye doctors to make your own appointment for the operation, good for you! But eye LASIK surgery, like any other kind of surgery, requires a certain amount of prep work before you can actually go under the knife. In this case, though, it’s more like going under the laser.
Prepping for LASIK
Your optometrist should see you well in advance of the LASIK eye treatment in order to ensure your eyes are healthy enough for surgery. You’ll have to remove your contact lenses completely for up to three weeks before the procedure, too, in order to encourage your eyes to absorb enough oxygen. There’s also the risk of developing badly dry eyes after the surgery, so your doctor can often put you on a special precautionary treatment (typically eye drops) well in advance of the actual LASIK eye treatment surgery date.
During the Procedure
LASIK corrects a number of vision problems (namely myopia, hyperopia, astigmatism, among others) through the same procedure, which is essentially a three-step process:
- As the eye is kept open and widened by metal tools, the corneal flap is cut with an advanced blade.
- The corneal flap is then lifted and reshaped with the help of a laser beam.
- The corneal flap is placed back where it belongs and allowed the proper amount of time to heal.
That’s really all there is to it.
After the Surgery
You won’t be able to drive yourself home, but you’ll definitely be allowed to leave right after the procedure is complete. Your eyes might sting or burn a bit and your vision will probably be a bit blurry, but that’s all normal. With the aid of eye drops, your symptoms should resolve by the next morning or so. As for your vision, that should return to normal — actually, better than normal — in mere days, though sometimes it takes weeks instead.
Though LASIK eye surgery prices will vary based on the patient’s individual circumstances, most people tend to pay a combined $4,000 — $2,000 for each eye. But it’s important to think of your surgery as an investment in your future. It’s a future free from corrective lenses and future vision problems altogether.