What is Lasik?
You’ve no doubt heard about LASIK, a revolutionary tool for correcting eyesight that lasts for the rest of your life. It is by far the most common procedure for correcting vision, with 96% of all refractive surgeries being LASIK. If you are one of the 35% of Americans that have correctable vision problems – read on to learn about an opportunity to get rid of your glasses or contacts forever.
What is LASIK?
LASIK is a procedure done on the cornea, the clear outer layer of your eye, to
correct certain visual disorders. LASIK is part of a larger family of procedures called
Refractive surgery aims to correct refractive errors in vision. Refractive errors are conditions like near-sightedness (myopia) and far-sightedness (hyperopia). In nearsightedness, which is the more common of the two, light focuses in front of the retina, giving a blurry image. In farsightedness, light focuses behind the retina. Both are caused by the eye not bending, or refracting, light properly. To correct these issues, LASIK changes the shape of your cornea. For those with myopia, the cornea is flattened, moving the focal point back to the retina. For those with hyperopia, the cornea is steepened, moving the focal point forward to the retina. In both cases, normal vision is restored.
What Is This Guide?
Since its FDA approval in 1999, more than 10 million Americans have corrected their vision with Laser-Assisted In Situ Keratomileusis, or LASIK. It is by far the most common refractive procedure performed in the United States, and with good reason – 90% of patients achieve 20/20 vision and 99% achieve 20/40 vision. It is widely considered to be a safe and effective way to correct nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism.
90% success Rate
99% Success Rate
LASIK isn’t indicated for everyone, and so it’s important to be aware of other procedures in the refractive surgery family. The second common option is PRK, which is similar in many respects to LASIK. They both function by modifying the cornea, which is the clear outer layer of the eye. PRK is better for those with thinner corneas, but may entail a longer healing time. Another procedure to be aware of is SMILE, which also functions through modifying the cornea. Unlike LASIK and PRK, which work for both nearsighted and farsighted individuals, SMILE only works for nearsighted people. However, some evidence has shown that it can reduce the risk of dry eyes compared to LASIK. Ultimately the best recommendation will come from your eye surgeon, who will take all precautions to make sure that any procedure you choose is the correct one. Continue to read this guide for more information about the history of LASIK, it’s pros and cons, treatment expectations, and more.
Who Is This Guide For?
We’ve developed this guide primarily for eye patients at Manhattan Eye who are looking for an in-depth resource on Lasik, as a way to get beyond the buzzwords and fluff found elsewhere online. We hope that we can help anyone thinking about LASIK in NYC, since there are so many options within our five boroughs.
Why Did We Create This Guide?
Many patients worry about Lasik for a variety of reasons. Our goal with this guide is to empower a Lasik candidate with an easy-to-skim explainer with evidence-based research about the subject so patients can feel more comfortable and confident in their decisions.
The Pros and Cons of Lasik
The primary goal of lasik is to correct either nearsightedness, farsightedness, and or astigmatism. It does this through modifying the cornea, which can lead to some side effects. Created below is a pro-con list for LASIK specifically
90% of patients achieve 20/20 and 99% achieve 20/40 vision,which is the minimum visual acuity for driving unaided. For this reason,LASIK is considered a wildly successful procedure for correcting vision
The procedure itself takes only about 15 minutes. While the total visit will take longer, the time under the laser itself is exceedingly short.
Unlike PRK, where the healing takes about a month, with LASIK, full vision will come in a couple of days. Many people see better upon getting up from the table.
LASIK involves the creation of a flap, which can be dislodged if hit. Full healing of the flap takes a couple of months, and so it is important to be careful in that time period.
For the first six month after the procedure, your tear ducts may produce less tears, which can lead to a feeling of dry eyes. This can be corrected with over the counter eye drops.
LASIK may lead to a reduction in visual acuity in dim light conditions. Especially right after the surgery, some people report light sensitivity.
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LASIK, or Laser-Assisted In Situ Keratomileusis, is one of a group of procedures called refractive eye surgery. The first procedure in this group was done by a Spanish Ophthalmologist named Jose Barraquer Moner in 1948. He used a tool called a microkeratome in order to remove tiny portions of patients’ cornea, reshaping it to improve vision.
In order to understand the different vision conditions, one must understand how light moves through the eye. When light first enters the eye it is bent, or refracted, by the cornea. The cornea actually provides the most optical power out of any part of the eye, and so has an incredible ability to shape your vision.
The Lasik procedure is quick and painless, usually taking less than 15 minutes. First, a calming medication will be given to the patient. Relaxation is very important, as the patient should not move during the procedure. Once the medication kicks in, they will be led to the laser suite, which houses two different types of lasers.
Lasik patients have a variety of expectations, both perceived and real. We break down the expectations for our patients in terms of before, during and after surgery so there are no surprises. Check out this chapter to understand these expectations, starting from the moment you come in for your initial appointment. No matter you go, these expectations should be fairly standard.
One important question often asked very early on is “Am I a candidate for Lasik?” This is often connected to a pre-existing condition that worries our patients. So this blog post addresses the risks and benefits of the LASIK procedure as reported by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), based on different co-existing conditions of patients.
Currently, insurance (including vision) does not cover LASIK. However, it can be paid for using an HSA or FSA. The total cost of LASIK will depend on the individual practice, but the average price in New York is between two and three thousand dollars per eye. While price is a factor to consider, surgeon skill and experience will always command a premium.
During your consult, it is important to make sure LASIK is the right choice for you. If for some reason, LASIK would be a poor treatment choice, inquire about other procedures. Another common one is Photorefractive keratectomy (PRK), which may be a better choice for those with thinner corneas.
Feeling overwhelmed about which doctor to choose for your Lasik surgery is understandable. It’s OK! To help put your mind at ease, we put together some questions to consider when speaking to any Lasik practice so you can make an informed decision and feel good about this important step, both personally and financially.
Many patients have been asking me about LASIK and PRK and whether now is a good time given the COVID-19 epidemic. While it is theoretically possible for COVID-19 to transmit via the mucus membranes of the eye, there has not yet been 1 case of COVID-19 transmission reported this way.