Understanding Lasik

If you have vision problems, then you might have thought about getting Lasik. However, you probably want to know all the facts before you make any major commitments.

So what is Lasik?

Lasik is actually an acronym that stands for laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis. The general idea is that a specialized surgeon (an ophthalmologist) uses laser eye surgery to reshape the cornea of your eye. While it is quite a bit more expensive than glasses or contacts, you can save money and comfort in the long run. The entire process only takes a few minutes, but there is a fairly long healing period.

What does Lasik treat?

There are quite a few eye problems that can be treated with Lasik, but it is most commonly used to address nearsightedness (myopia), farsightedness (hyperopia), and astigmatism.

How does the surgery work?

During the surgery, your eyelids will be held open in order to prevent you from blinking. You will be given eye drops to make sure that your eyes don't dry out during the process. A small cut is made into the eye to allow the surgeon to access the area to be modified. The surgeon will use a laser to reshape your eye and then repair the earlier cut when they are finished. One of the biggest benefits of Lasik is that the process is entirely painless. Even though the idea of a laser cutting your eye may sound scary, it only takes a couple of minutes for each eye and you will barely feel anything.

What are the drawbacks of Lasik?

First and foremost, Lasik can be a pretty expensive treatment, ranging from several hundred to several thousand dollars per eye. In many cases, your insurance will not cover Lasik, since it is not seen as a critical health procedure.

After Lasik, it is somewhat common to have dry eyes. This will usually go away quickly (if you even experience it at all), but it can turn into dry eye syndrome in some cases.

Post-surgery infection is possible, but extremely uncommon. In fact, you are less likely to get an infection from Lasik than you are from regular contact usage.

Finally, there is a small possibility that the surgery could simply be unsuccessful. In the worst cases, Lasik might even lead to a reduced quality of vision and increased discomfort. In such a situation, you might want to get another surgery to correct the failed surgery.

That being said, these risks (aside from the cost) are extremely rare. The benefits will generally outweigh any side effects and only you can decide if the cost is worth the long term benefit.