WHAT IS LASIK?
LASIK, or laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis, is a type of refractive surgery that improves vision by reshaping the cornea with a laser.
LASIK is performed in two steps. First, the surgeon creates a micro-thin flap in the corneal tissue and folds it back. In the second step, an excimer laser is used on the inner cornea to correct vision.
Think of the cornea as 100 sheets of paper stacked on top of one another. The cornea is made of sheets of collagen that reach from one side of the white part of the eye to the other. These sheets strengthen the front part of the eye and help protect against injury.
In LASIK surgery, we lift the top sheets (which are called the “flap”), carefully apply the excimer laser’s cool beam to reshape the surface, and then replace them. The pulse of the excimer laser is so precise that it removes less than one-quarter micron with each pulse – less than the width of a human hair. Once the flap is replaced, it immediately begins to heal.
Originally, the first step – flap creation – was done with a hand-held oscillating blade called a microkeratome. Since 2005, however, the invention of the femtosecond laser has allowed for this step to also be performed with a laser. When this type of technology is used, it means the LASIK procedure is done without any blades, making it all-laser LASIK.
Dr. Updegraff has been performing all-laser LASIK exclusively since October 2005, when a top-of-the-line femtosecond laser was first made available. Numerous clinical studies as well as Dr. Updegraff’s personal experience have shown that all-laser LASIK is significantly safer than the earlier, bladed procedures – it provides better visual outcomes, decreases complications, and reduces the need for retreatments.
WHAT DOES LASIK DO?
Dr. Updegraff uses LASIK to treat patients with myopia (nearsightedness), with or without astigmatism. In a myopic eye, the eyeball is slightly too long from front to back. This causes light rays entering the eye to focus in front of the retina instead of on it, which results in poor distance vision.
When LASIK is performed on a myopic eye, the excimer laser reshapes the surface of the cornea so that it is no longer too long. This allows light entering the eye to focus directly on the retina, drastically improving vision.
Dr. Updegraff often performs LASIK on patients with astigmatism, too. Astigmatism occurs when the eyeball has an irregular shape, which causes light entering the eye to focus on two different points in the retina instead of one. Performing LASIK on an astigmatic eye can correct its curvature, which improves vision.
WHO SHOULD HAVE LASIK?
In Dr. Updegraff’s experience, the ideal LASIK patient is someone who is between the ages of 18 and 50, is nearsighted (with or without astigmatism), and is tired of the hassle of contacts and glasses. Many of our most satisfied patients are those with active lifestyles, who are most able to appreciate the freedom from glasses and contacts that LASIK can provide.
Many other variables, including the thickness of your corneas and the dryness of your eyes, also affect whether or not you should have LASIK. To ensure that you are a good candidate for LASIK, Dr. Updegraff will perform a thorough complimentary consultation and exam, which will answer these questions and more. To learn about what to expect at a LASIK consultation with Dr. Updegraff, read Consultation for Precision LASIK™.