LASIK Eye Surgury - Risk
Finding the Right Doctor
If you are considering refractive surgery, make sure you:
- Compare. The levels of risk and benefit vary slightly not only from procedure to procedure, but from device to device depending on the manufacturer, and from surgeon to surgeon depending on their level of experience with a particular procedure.
- Don't base your decision simply on cost and don't settle for the first eye center, doctor, or procedure you investigate. Remember that the decisions you make about your eyes and refractive surgery will affect you for the rest of your life.
Quick GuideLaser Eye Surgery Pictures Slideshow: Better Vision Through Surgery (LASIK, PRK, LASEK & More)
What is LASIK?
LASIK stands for Laser in Situ Keratomileusis, which means using a laser underneath a corneal flap (in situ) to reshape the cornea (keratomileusis). This procedure utilizes a highly specialized laser (excimer laser) designed to treat refractive errors, improve vision, and reduce or eliminate the need for glasses or contact lenses. This laser procedure alters the shape of the cornea, which is the transparent front covering of the eye. Though the excimer laser had been used for many years before, the development of LASIK is generally credited to Ioannis Pallikaris from Greece around 1991.
How does LASIK work?
During the LASIK procedure, a specially trained eye surgeon first creates a precise, thin hinged corneal flap using a microkeratome. The surgeon then pulls back the flap to expose the underlying corneal tissue, and then the excimer laser ablates (reshapes) the cornea in a unique pre-specified pattern for each patient. The flap is then gently repositioned onto the underlying cornea without sutures.
What is refractive error?
In the human eye, the front surface (cornea) and lens inside the eye form the eye's "focusing system" and are primarily responsible for focusing incoming light rays onto the surface of the retina, much like the lenses of a camera focus light onto the film. In a perfect optical system, the power of the cornea and lens are perfectly matched with the length of the eye and images are in focus; any mismatch in this system is called a refractive error, and the result is a blurred image at some location.
What are the primary types of refractive error?
Myopia (nearsightedness): In people with myopia, the mismatch in focusing power and eye length causes distant objects to be blurry and near objects to be clearer.
Hyperopia (farsightedness): In people with hyperopia, the mismatch in focusing power and eye length causes near objects to be blurry and distant objects to be relatively clearer.
Astigmatism: In people with astigmatism, either the corneal or lens shape is distorted, causing multiple images on the retina. This causes objects at all distances to appear blurry. Many people have a combination of either myopia or hyperopia with astigmatism.
How do glasses or contacts improve vision in people with refractive errors?
Glasses or contact lenses are used to compensate for the eye's refractive error by bending light rays in a way that complements the eye's specific refractive error. In contrast, LASIK and other forms of refractive surgery are intended to correct the eye's refractive error to reduce the need for other visual aids.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/14/2015