It is one of the wonders of modern medicine and technology – the ability to improve vision and do away with spectacles or contact lenses. Whether for aesthetics or practical reasons, LASIK has gained popularity over recent years. But questions and myths over this procedure still abound. We lay to rest some of the top misconceptions.
FACT: There are many factors to consider other than price. These include the reputation of the centre and its audit system, the ability to ensure personalised reviews by the surgeons and the range of treatment options off ered. As with any surgery – and LASIK is considered surgery – a surgeon’s skill and the level of care the centre off ers is essential. The laser is only one of the tools that the surgeon uses to perform the procedure. The surgeon must also create and manipulate the corneal fl ap, a delicate surgical procedure that requires experience and skill.
Apart from the procedure itself, the success of LASIK also depends on the pre- and post-operative care. A reputable doctor will assess the suitability of the patient and the type of procedure required. As with all surgeries, complications are a factor and a good centre is prepared to off er close follow-up care to prevent and/or treat any such complications.
FACT: Not everyone is suitable for LASIK, those with thin corneas relative to the degree of improvement they want to achieve are not suitable for LASIK. People in certain jobs may also find LASIK unsuitable. Generally only a small number of people (about 10% or less) may be unsuitable.
However, there are many other refractive surgery options available and a reputable centre will be able to give advice on these other procedures. Thus, it is advantageous to go to a centre with a wide range of refractive surgery
options and experience.
FACT: LASIK can be tailored to an
individual’s eye and requirements.
Newer technology also means
that treatments can be even more
customised to a patient’s need and
level of correction. Your surgeon will
be able to advise on the most suitable
treatment for you.
New LASIK programmes are also
much more accurate and able to treat
higher degree levels. In the past, the
higher the degree a person had, the
more cornea had to be removed, but
LASIK technology now removes less
tissue allowing for higher levels of
It is important to choose a centre
with a wide range of femtosecond
and excimer laser machines to fi nd
the best match in technology to
an individual’s requirement. Some
refractive intraocular implants
are also now available to treat
extremes of myopia not amenable
to LASIK surgery.
FACT: The excimer is a ‘cool’ laser and
does not use heat energy to remodel
the cornea. However, there may still
be an element of tissue vaporisation
which may result in some smells present
during the treatment.
FACT: LASIK was first performed 20
years ago in 1989 by an ophthalmologist
in Greece and then introduced to
America in 1990. Since then, peer reviewed
publications have shown
excellent safety, efficacy and stability
results for eyes up to 10 years after
LASIK, and millions of LASIK treatment
worldwide have shown no unexpected
FACT: Most LASIK platforms have
highly-advanced eye tracking devices
that compensates for any minor eye
movements during the procedure.
These active tracking systems follow the
patient’s eye position at a speed of up to
4,000 times per second and redirects the
laser pulses precisely.
FACT: Most patients will not require the
use of contact lenses after LASIK. If there
is a need to, patients who had previously
worn contact lenses comfortably prior
to surgery, will generally be able to do so again, especially soft contact lenses.
As with initial lens use, it may take some
time to get used to wearing lenses for
extended periods of time.
FACT: Yes, the results of LASIK are
permanent and once your eyes are
treated, vision rarely deteriorates to the
original state. But your eyes can still
change shape, especially in younger
patients in which myopia is not fully
stable. Depending on the individual,
some may need ‘adjustments’ to correct
future problems like near-sightedness,
far-sightedness or astigmatism.
A major advantage of LASIK is the ability
to enhance the treatment many years
later if there is change in refraction
with time. Also, as you age, the need for
reading glasses is quite common, and
presbyopic reading correction may still
be needed after the age of 40.
LASIK is a procedure in which the
cornea – the transparent front part of
the eye that lets in light – is sculpted
to improve vision.
The eye works like a camera : the
cornea acts as a lens, allowing light
(and images) into the eyeball and
onto the retina – which acts like a
film – at the back of the eyeball. The
shape of our corneas determines how
‘focused’ this image is. An out-ofshape
cornea transmits an unfocused
image on the retina and the brain
perceives this image to be fuzzy.
LASIK helps to perfect the shape of
the cornea so that images can be
sharply focused. The procedure can
be used to correct near-sightedness,
far-sightedness and astigmatism.
LASIK involves two steps, the surface
of the cornea is first cut to create a
flap to access the middle section of
the cornea. Then an excimer laser is
used to shape the cornea to achieve
perfect vision. Previously, only
microkeratomes involving the use of
a mechanical high-speed oscillating
blade were available to make the
flap. Now, ‘bladeless LASIK’, in which
the flap is made with another type
of laser (the femtosecond laser), is
The surgery takes about 15
minutes and does not require any
general anaesthesia, just topical
anaesthetic eyedrops. Patients
usually see an improvement
in vision immediately after the
procedure and usually have close to-
normal vision by the next day.
Normal activities can be resumed
in just one or two days.
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