Vision problems like nearsightedness, called myopia (distant vision is blurry), and farsightedness, called hyperopia (near vision is blurry), are common. To avoid straining the eyes and deal with vision issues, people usually opt for glasses or lenses, and those wanting a permanent solution opt for Lasik eye surgery.
Lasik, short for laser-assisted in-situ keratomileusis, is a widely performed procedure aimed at addressing vision issues. It stands as one of the most prevalent laser refractive surgeries and offers an alternative for individuals seeking to reduce their dependence on eyeglasses or contact lenses for vision enhancement. Let's delve into the comprehensive process of Lasik, covering what occurs before, during, and after the procedure.
Who Cannot Opt For Lasik?
For Lasik, it is always advisable to consult your eye doctor before considering the surgery; however, you must also note that Lasik isn't suitable for everyone. People with severe dry eyes, weakened immune systems, and autoimmune disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis, severe nearsightedness, very large pupils, thin corneas, and advanced glaucoma cannot undergo Lasik surgery. Besides this, pregnant and breastfeeding women and kids under 18 cannot undergo this surgery either.
Commenting on the criteria for getting Lasik done, Dr. Imad Hakim, Consultant ophthalmologist in Cataract and Refractive vision correction (Lasik) at Moorfields Eye Hospitals UAE, says, "The patient should be aged 21 and above, have good corneal thickness, stable refraction for at least one year and good general eye health. Lasik is considered a safe procedure with a high success rate. However, as with any surgery, there are potential risks. Ensure that a thorough pre-operative evaluation is done and choose an experienced surgeon."
Procedure To Follow Before The Surgery
First and foremost, before the surgery, the doctor will evaluate your eyes, discuss your medical and surgical history, check your vision and decide whether you can undergo the procedure safely. During the eye examination, the doctor will check for eye infections, inflammation, dry eyes and other conditions. Besides this, your doctor will measure your cornea, noting the shape, contour, thickness and any irregularities.
Once the check-up is done, your doctor will discuss the risks and benefits and answer all your questions.
What Happens During The Lasik Procedure?
It usually takes around 30 minutes for the doctor to perform Lasik surgery. During the surgery, patients lie back in a reclining chair, and numbing drops are put in the eye. The doctor starts the surgery by opening the eyelids and placing a suction ring on the eye, before cutting the corneal flap. Using laser, your doctor will make a thin flap in the cornea tissue and lift the layer formed by the flap back. After that, using a programmed laser, parts of your cornea will be reshaped; once that's done, the cornea's flap will be placed back.
During the surgery, the doctor will ask you to focus on a point of light since that helps to get your eye fixed while the laser reshapes your cornea.
Side Effects Post Surgery
Usually, there are no side effects, but there can be temporary effects like hazy or blurry vision, light sensitivity, discomfort or pain, dryness and more; however, with eye drops and care, your eye will heal soon.
Speaking about the side effects, Dr. Esmaeil Arababi, Medical Director of Moorfields Eye Hospital Centre Abu Dhabi, Consultant Ophthalmologist, Corneal transplant, Cataract and Refractive Surgery, said, "The most common issue is dry eyes, which can affect a significant portion of patients, around 30% to 40%. Fortunately, in most cases, this dryness tends to improve and return to its baseline within a few weeks or in one to two months. Sometimes it might take up to three months. However, dry eyes can become severe and symptomatic in less than 1% of all individuals."
Highlighting dryness as one of the main side effects, Dr Esmaeil Arababi added, "Some patients may even develop a condition called neuralgia, where the cornea becomes highly sensitive. In other cases, patients can experience discomfort due to dryness, even if their eyes are not excessively dry. Additionally, a few patients may encounter visual disturbances during the night, such as glare, halos, or starbursts. These issues were more common in older laser technologies, but with modern lasers, the risk of severe glare and halos has minimised to less than 1%."
Procedure After The Surgery
Following Lasik surgery, you might encounter slight itching and experience minor discomfort in your eye, but the recovery of your vision typically happens swiftly. As part of the post-operative care regimen, your physician may provide you with eye drops and instruct you to wear a transparent eye shield for protection or dark glasses as your eye heals. Within a day or two, a follow-up appointment will be scheduled with your doctor to assess your treated eye and adjust your treatment plan as needed.
Dr. Imad Hakim of Moorfields Eye Hospitals UAE, also suggests patients take prescribed eye drops post the surgery; he says, "After the surgery, patients should avoid rubbing their eyes, going for a swim, visiting saunas and performing any kind of sports/strenuous activity. Besides this, wearing protective sunglasses are a must."
However, for a few weeks, you have to avoid eye makeup, hair wash, swimming, heavy contact sports, and follow all the instructions your doctor writes down for you.