Lasik Eye Surgery: What Does It Entail, And Could It Be Right For You?

Lasik eye surgery can open doors for any patient with impaired vision, and for many it can permanently correct vision nearly perfectly. If you're interested in laser eye surgery to free you from glasses and contacts forever, here are a few things you should know about the procedure before you contact your doctor.

How Can Lasik Surgery Help You?

Lasik surgery is a permanent solution for problems with your eyesight, from minor issues like needing reading glasses to severe impairment bordering on legal blindness. While the surgery cannot always bring a patient's sight up to 20/20, it can offer a drastic improvement. For example, if your eyesight is so impaired you cannot find contacts in your prescription, lasik surgery may be able to get you into contact territory.

For those with minor visual impairment, having laser surgery can give you the ability to navigate your life without visual aids like glasses and contacts. This is especially helpful if you worry about leaving your contacts in and suffering eye damage, or if you're forgetful and don't want to be paralyzed by a lost pair of glasses. Having your eyes surgically repaired also reduces the costs associated with replacing lost or damaged contacts and glasses for the rest of your life.

Who Can Get Laser Eye Surgery?

There are two major requirements for a patient hoping to get corrective laser eye surgery: you must be 18 or older and you must have had a stable eye prescription for the past year.

Children and teens younger than 18 cannot receive the surgery because their eyes are still growing. If the shape of your eye were to change after the procedure is done, all of the hard work and money spent would be instantly undone. 

For similar reasons, if your prescription has recently changed, this indicates that lasik surgery is not in your best interest. The shape of your eyes is still changing in order for your prescription to change, so the surgery would only be temporarily effective. If you have continuous degeneration, laser corrective surgery poses only a temporary solution.

How Should You Prepare For A Laser Surgery?

If you wear contacts and intend to have corrective laser eye surgery, it's important to ask your doctor how soon before the surgery you'll need to stop wearing them. More rigid brands of contacts need to be removed as early as 4 weeks before your evaluation for lasik eligibility. Contacts can change the shape of your eye slightly, so it's vital to stop wearing them in time for your eye to be its natural shape, or the surgery won't be nearly as effective.

On the day of your surgery, eat a light meal and be sure to take any prescribed medicines like normal. Avoid wearing eye makeup or bulky hair accessories that might make it more difficult for the surgeon to turn your head. If you feel ill on the morning of your surgery, call or arrive early to discuss with your doctor whether or not it should be postponed.

What Happens During A Lasik Procedure?

During lasik surgery, the cornea is cut with extreme precision and opened to expose the corneal tissue in the eye. This tissue's shape is what determines the eye's ability to focus. Using special tools, the surgeon reshapes this tissue so the structure of your eye is able to focus more accurately. The surgeon then closes up the eye again and the procedure is finished. For most patients, the surgery takes as little as 10 minutes from start to finish.

Once the procedure is complete, plan to have someone drive you home from the doctor's office. You won't be able to see very well out of the affected eyes for a few days, but some patients report better vision than before within a week of the surgery. Your doctor will also give you eye drops that will help the eye heal and prevent infections from getting access to it. Even if your eye doesn't feel dry, be sure to use these drops exactly as your doctor recommends.

If improving your vision permanently sounds good to you and your prescription hasn't changed in over a year, it may be time to talk to your doctor about corrective laser surgery. The sooner you ask, the sooner you can potentially take advantage of the benefits of permanently corrected vision.