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What is LASIK (Laser Asisted in situ Keratomileusis)?

LASIK is the safest and most effective technique for correction of myopia under 10 diopters and hyperopia and astigmatism under 6 diopters. It is the most commonly used procedure for the correction of these refractive errors because 90% of patients fall into these groups.

LASIK modifies the cornea's refractive power allowing rays of light to adequately focus on the retina without eyeglasses or contact lenses. The cornea is the main optical component of the eye. It has three main layers: epithelium, stroma and endothelium. This procedure modifies the stroma's curvature in order to reshape the cornea.

An Argon-Fluoride Excimer laser is used to correct refractive errors with this technique. This laser can sculpt the cornea and change its shape. The advantage of LASIK over other laser procedures is that it sculpts the deep layers of the cornea. Press the green button several times to watch the procedure.

Who will benefit from LASIK?

Most people suffering from myopia, hyperopia or astigmatism will benefit from this procedure. Best results are obtained in persons who are not comfortable with eyeglasses or contact lenses and are motivated to change not to depend on these visual aids. Myopes over 40 years old must carefully discuss the procedure with their ophthalmologist since they may not be completely satisfied with their near vision due to presbyopia.

Is the procedure safe?

In the hands of a good surgeon LASIK is extremely safe if the following criteria are met:

  • Myopia under 10 diopters or hyperopia or astigmatism under 6 diopters. The refractive error must have stabilized.
    (They usually stabilize when the eyeball stops its growth at around 18 years of age)
  • Absence of Glaucoma, Queratoconus and other eye conditions
    (which your ophthalmologist should rule out before surgery)
  • Adequate corneal thickness (this measurement should always be performed using a pachimeter)
  • Refractive surgery is not recommended for pregnant women

Just as any other surgical procedure, LASIK has risks. One out of a hundred persons operated on with this technique has some sort of complication. In almost every case there is a solution to the problem. Severe complications are extremely rare.

Is LASIK painful? How long does it take?

Surgery is performed under topical anesthesia (anesthetic eyedrops). No injections or general anesthesia are required. The patient is awake during the procedure feeling no pain at all. It takes about 5 minutes per eye. Once finished, you will go home without need for hospitalization.

PRK (Photorefractive Keratectomy)

During the late 1980's, IBM developed the excimer laser. This laser was initially used to etch computer chips, but researchers felt that the laser had great potential in medicine. Different from most lasers, the excimer laser produces no heat, and thus is called a "cold" laser. The excimer laser simply evaporates cellular material, without affecting surrounding tissue. This allows for precise tissue removal and "shaping" of the cornea. PRK is very similar to LASIK except a corneal flap is never made. Instead, the eye¡?s outer skin, called the epithelium is removed. Next, as in LASIK, the Excimer laser is used to shape the surface of the cornea, resulting in better vision. Finally, a temporary contact lens is gently placed over the cornea to act as a bandage.

PRK is generally performed and recommended to patients involved in contact sports especially when degree of correction is mild and or cornea is too thin for LASIK.