LASIK is one of the most popular surgical procedures used to correct refractive errors in the eye. It is used to treat ocular conditions such as myopia, hyperopia and astigmatism. It is a non-invasive procedure that is carried out using a laser by a trained eye surgeon (ophthalmologist). Since it is non-invasive, it gives very quick results, is safer, and also leads to faster recovery among patients.
LASIK is largely opted for by those suffering from common vision problems such as the ones mentioned above. It is typically recommended for patients with severe vision problems – that is, those who are compelled to wear high power glasses or lenses. After LASIK, most patients would not need to wear any eye gear, though patients with very high power might still need to wear glasses/lenses.
Prior to a LASIK surgery, a patient is required to wear special soft contact lenses for a period of 2 to 4 weeks. After this, the ophthalmologist would examine the patient’s corneas and map the curvature and surface contour. Before the surgery, the patient might be administered an antibiotic to reduce the chances of any infection.
LASIK surgery is usually performed with the patient fully awake. An anesthetic eye drop is administered but the patient is typically fully mobile and cognizant of the operation. Since LASIK is an outpatient procedure, the patient can be discharged almost immediately after the surgery.
However, there can be several complications post LASIK if proper post-operative care instructions aren’t followed. The patient is typically advised to sleep a couple of hours extra every day for a few weeks after the operation. Antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medication is also prescribed for at least three weeks post-surgery. In many cases, the patient might also be required to wear special glasses to prevent itching/scratching of the eyes during sleep. Failure to follow these care instructions can lead to several complications. In fact, most cases of failure with respect to LASIK usually happen due to the patient’s negligence post-operation.
Common complications involving laser surgery are surgery induced dry eyes (hence most post-operative care procedures involve administration of tear drops for a period of 4 weeks), overcorrection or under correction, light sensitivity, double images, etc. Since the patient is advised not to venture out into the sun, it may also lead to Vitamin D deficiency, further intensified by light sensitivity post-operation.
LASIK surgery has become the most popular refractive surgical procedure all across the world. In the US, patients report 92-98% success rate. One study put the satisfaction rate among patients at 95.4%.
LASIK surgery cost is another reason for its popularity. In some countries like India, LASIK surgery cost can be as low as $400-500. The cost is quite a bit more in the US – it can come down to anywhere from $1800-$3000. LASIK is recommended only for patients above 18 years, though most doctors advise that younger patients should opt for LASIK only if their power has stabilized.