LASIK (Laser Assisted In Situ Keratomileusis) is a surgical procedure that uses an excimer laser to reshape the cornea of the eye, thereby correcting a refractive error in people with short-sight (myopia), long-sight (hyperopia) or astigmatism. Together these three conditions account for around 95% of refractive errors
How long has LASIK been performed?
The first LASIK surgery was performed in 1990 by the Greek ophthalmic surgeon Ioannis Pallikaris, making 2010 the 20th anniversary of its development. The procedure has been widely available since the mid 1990s.
Should I have LASIK?
This is a decision you should make in consultation with an eye surgeon who can advise whether LASIK is suitable for you. Like all surgical procedures, LASIK does have risks and potential complications and these will vary from person to person. After LASIK, a high proportion of people are able to carry out most daily activities without glasses or contact lenses, but this cannot be guaranteed and there is a possibility that you may still need vision correction for some activities.
Can everyone have LASIK?
No, there are a number of factors that surgeons must evaluate before they can determine whether LASIK is appropriate for you. See here (link to The Lasik Experience) for more details.
Will I have perfect vision after LASIK?
Approximately 56% of LASIK patients achieve results of 20/20 or better and over 90% achieve 20/40 or better (which is good enough to drive in many countries). However LASIK does not guarantee perfect vision and you may still need to wear reading glasses or contact lenses for some activities. The likelihood of needing additional vision correction is higher for people over the age of 40 due to the normal ageing of the eye known as presbyopia which occurs with or without LASIK.
Is LASIK painful?
Your eye surgeon will use anaesthetic eye drops to ensure that you are comfortable during the procedure. You may also be given a low dose sedative tablet to help you relax.
It is normal to experience some irritation, light sensitivity or watery eyes immediately after LASIK, but this resolves in a few weeks for most people.
Are there side effects after LASIK?
Like all surgical procedures, LASIK has risks and potential complications and these will vary from person to person. See the section Side effects of laser eye surgery (link) for more information and make sure you discuss your own risk/benefit for LASIK with your eye surgeon.
After LASIK, how will my vision be at night or in low light?
Some people experience glare or halos around lights in dim or low-light conditions. For the vast majority, these symptoms are temporary. However, some people do continue to experience them for several months or in the longer term and this can interfere with daily activities, especially driving at night.
What are the advantages of LASIK surgery?
LASIK has been shown to be safe and effective for most people. With careful pre-operative checks and screening, reasonable expectations and the care of an experienced surgeon, most patients are pleased with the results.
• LASIK is able to correct short sight, long sight and astigmatism.
• The procedure is quick and is generally painless.
• Because the laser is guided by a computer, it is precise and results are very accurate.
• In most cases, a single treatment will achieve the desired outcome; however, enhancements are possible if needed, even several years after the initial surgery.
What are the disadvantages of LASIK surgery?
• Each patient will heal slightly differently, so results may vary from person to person.
• LASIK could make some aspects of your vision worse, including night vision with glare and halos.
• LASIK may make dry-eye symptoms worse for some people.
• In rare circumstances, LASIK can make your vision worse and this may not be able to be corrected with glasses or contact lenses.
How much does LASIK cost?
The cost of LASIK varies dependent on the complexity of the procedure to correct your refractive error, your choice of surgeon and the country where you live.
Does insurance cover this surgery?
As LASIK is elective rather than essential surgery, you should check with your insurance company to see if your policy covers this procedure.
I am considering having laser eye surgery. How do I go about it?
Your general practitioner or optician may be able to recommend LASIK surgeons in your area, but you should still ask some questions to ensure that your surgeon is well qualified and highly experienced. See the section Selecting a Surgeon (link) for more information
Can I have LASIK on both eyes on the same day?
LASIK treatment on both eyes on the same day is theoretically possible, but your consultant should outline the risks. In order to reduce the risk of cross contamination, each eye should be treated as separate procedure.
If I have LASIK and my vision changes later in life, can it be redone?
Depending on the cause, retreatment may be a viable solution to vision changes later in life. You would need to see your eye surgeon to determine the cause of the change and to determine which option is best for you.
Can I play sports after LASIK surgery?
You can resume most normal activities after a few days. However you will also need to avoid activities such as contact sports and swimming for several weeks. It is important to check with your surgeon and follow their advice on when it is safe to restart specific activities.
How soon can I drive after having LASIK?
You may experience some discomfort and/or blurred vision for a few hours after surgery and some patients receive a sedative prior to surgery. Driving is not recommended for at least 24 hours and you may need to wait for longer, dependent on your specific surgery and driving regulations in your country.