Humans are visual beings. More than any other sensory organ, we rely on our eyes to connect with the world around us.
However, this also implies that any type of change in our eye health has adverse effects on our quality of life. Although I hope that nothing bad ever happens to your eyesight and you always have 20/20 vision, refractive errors and eye problems are sneaky. Can’t do much about them, can you?
If you also have a refractive error, the idea of getting Lasik eye surgery must have crossed your mind at least once. Decisions related to your eyes are life-changing and I don’t want you to make them with little information at hand.
What is Lasik surgery? Will it hurt my eyes? Am I a good candidate for Lasik? If you have these questions in your mind, you will get the answers in this blog.
What is Lasik surgery?
LASIK is the most common type of eye surgery that millions of people are going for to reverse eye problems such as myopia, hyperopia and astigmatism.
It includes reshaping the cornea to make sure that the light is focused on the central part of the retina and you get better visual acuity. LASIK is short for "laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis."
The surgery is performed in only 15 minutes and there are only a few cases where it showed severe complications. However, it is only surgery and there is always room for mistakes.
If you are not fit enough to undergo eye surgery, wearing glasses will also give you that crystal clear vision in the most comfortable way possible.
What to expect before Lasik surgery?
Your eye doctor will evaluate your eyes to make sure they are healthy enough to undergo surgery. If you are entitled to a free NHS eye test, you can save money on this step.
Your eye doctor will consider a few things such as the shape and thickness of your cornea, your refractive error, pupil size and any other eye condition that you may have.
Normally, a medical imaging technique known as ‘corneal topographer’ is used to measure the curvature of the eye and create a map of your cornea.
Your doctor will ask you about your family’s medical history and any prescription drugs you are taking currently to ascertain that you are a suitable candidate for surgery.
What happens in a Lasik surgery?
The eye surgeon will first create a superficial flap in the cornea and then folds back the hinged part to access the underlying cornea. With the help of an excimer laser, the surgeon will then remove some corneal tissue to give it a certain shape.
Excimer lasers project a UV light beam focused on the patient’s eye. It removes the microscopic corneal tissues so that light is more accurately focused on the retina.
If you are nearsighted, your cornea will be flattened during the surgical process. In the case of farsightedness, the result will be a steeper cornea. Excimer lasers can also correct astigmatic eyes by giving a normal shape to the cornea.
After the cornea is reshaped, the surgeon will put the flap back in its place. The Lasik flap will bond with the underlying cornea once it has healed completely. This procedure only requires eye numbing drops. You won’t need stitches or a bandage as the cornea will heal itself.
What to expect after Lasik surgery?
After the treatment is over, it is normal for your eyes to feel itchy or irritated. You may feel that something has caught your eye but it is just a temporary discomfort you will have to deal with after Lasik.
After another brief eye examination, you can have someone drive you home. Remember, you won’t be allowed to drive until your eye doctor confirms that your vision meets the driving standards.
Do not get bothered if the things around you appear blurry. The problem will resolve on its own within a few hours. Your vision will continue to improve during the next few days but don’t fret if it takes about a week.
Although you may feel like you are good to go to work the very next day, you need to take a day off and allow your eyes to rest. Avoid rubbing your eyes as it can move the artificial flap before it gets sealed to the underlying cornea. Get an eye test after the surgery to make sure that the cornea is healthy.
What are the risks involved?
Severe complications that might result in vision loss are rare. However, some temporary visual problems are rather common.
If too much corneal tissue gets removed during the Lasik surgery, you won’t get that clear vision you were rooting for. This situation is resolved with an enhancement procedure that is nothing but a Lasik touch-up. Undercorrections are more likely to occur if you are nearsighted.
Lasik can reduce the amount of tear production in the eye for the first six months. Your doctor will recommend using eye drops to keep them lubricated. If you have dry eye syndrome already, Lasik is not on the cards for you.
Night time visual problems
You may have to deal with poor night vision for a few days to a few weeks after surgery. Although glare and halos are common in low light levels, a residual refractive error can also trigger these symptoms.
If the corneal tissue isn’t removed evenly, it can change your eye curvature causing astigmatism. This will need another corrective follow-up surgery or you may have to wear glasses or contacts to see clearly.
Complications can occur during the healing of the epithelial flap created at the time of surgery. This could mean an uneven corneal surface or visual discomforts such as eye infections or excess tear production.
Who shouldn’t consider Lasik?
Lasik technology has come a long way and most people are now more suitable for Lasik than ever. However, this doesn’t mean that you are also the right candidate for the surgery. Following are the reasons why you shouldn’t undergo the Lasik procedure.
- You are 18 or younger
- You are pregnant or breastfeeding
- You are taking immunosuppressants or prescription drugs such as acne medications
- You have fluctuating vision
- You have dry eye syndrome
- You have an autoimmune disease
- You have cataract
What is the cost of Lasik surgery?
The cost of the surgery depends on many factors such as the experience of the surgeon and the technology used in the procedure. Wavefront generally costs more than regular Lasik as it involves personalised eye mapping.
Lasik surgery costs as little as £600 and may even go as high as £2600. In the case of severe refraction, the cost will be significantly higher.
Most insurance companies take this surgery as an elective procedure and do not cover the cost. However, it is available on the NHS for eye conditions that can lead to blindness if not treated. This means that if you are nearsighted or farsighted, you don’t qualify for Lasik surgery on the NHS. You can have a free eye test from us to determine the intensity of your refractive error.
When you are looking for how much Lasik surgery costs in the UK, make sure you consider what’s included in the cost and under what circumstances the amount is refundable.
Pros and cons of Lasik surgery
Everybody wants to enjoy a clear vision. But when you’ve never had Lasik before, it’s kind of tough to trust the process. To help you make a calculated decision, here are the good and the bad side of LASIK.
- It’s a quick and simple procedure
- Doesn’t take long to show results
- You can feel the improvement in your vision within a few hours after the surgery.
- Most people can get 20/20 vision
- Side effects only occur in 10% of the cases
- Expensive than other alternatives such as prescription eyeglasses
- Not everybody is eligible
- Side effects may be permanent
- The corneal flap can dislodge leading to more severe visual problems
- You can become astigmatic
Before taking your leave…
An informed decision is the one where you have considered all the negative and positive aspects of the surgery. If you are a risk-taker and do not mind the complications that may come along with Lasik, I would suggest you go for it. But if you are like me who always look for convenience and comfortability, you should look for other alternatives such as glasses.