LASIK eye surgery is a procedure that corrects certain vision problems, reducing or eliminating the need for eyeglasses or corrective lenses. LASIK is short for laser-assisted in-situ keratomileusis, the technical term for the surgical procedure.
LASIK eye surgery is the most common type of refractive surgery. Refractive surgery changes the shape of your cornea — the dome-shaped transparent tissue at the front of your eye. The desired result of LASIK eye surgery is to bend (refract) light rays to focus more precisely on your retina rather than at some point beyond or short of your retina.
The goal of LASIK eye surgery is to produce clearer, sharper vision.
If you’re tired of wearing eyeglasses or contact lenses, you may wonder whether laser-assisted in-situ keratomileusis (LASIK) surgery is right for you. After all, LASIK surgery has a good track record and most people are satisfied with the results.
However, LASIK surgery isn’t the most appropriate vision-correction option for everyone, and it’s not without risks.
When is LASIK surgery a good choice?
LASIK surgery is a type of refractive eye surgery. During the procedure, an eye surgeon creates a flap in the cornea, and then uses a laser to reshape the cornea and correct focusing problems in the eye. LASIK surgery is most appropriate for people who have a moderate degree of:
- Nearsightedness (myopia), in which you see nearby objects clearly, but distant objects are blurry
- Farsightedness (hyperopia), in which you can see distant objects clearly, but nearby objects are blurry
- Astigmatism, which causes overall blurry vision
A good surgical outcome depends on careful evaluation of your eyes before the surgery.
What about LASIK surgery for presbyopia?
By the early to mid-40s, most adults have lost some ability to focus on nearby objects (presbyopia), which results in difficulty reading small print or doing other close-up tasks. The condition may continue to worsen until about age 65.
If you have presbyopia, LASIK surgery may give you clear distance vision, but it can actually worsen your ability to see objects close up.
To maintain your ability to see close objects, you might choose to have your vision corrected for monovision. With monovision, one eye is corrected for distant vision, and the other eye is corrected for near vision. However, not everyone is able to adjust to or tolerate monovision. It’s best to do a trial with contact lenses before having a permanent surgical procedure.
What are the risks of LASIK surgery?
As with any surgery, LASIK surgery carries risks, including:
- Undercorrection, overcorrection or astigmatism. If the laser removes too little or too much tissue from your eye, you won’t get the clearer vision you wanted. Similarly, uneven tissue removal can result in astigmatism.
- Vision disturbances. After surgery you may have difficulty seeing at night. You might notice glare, halos around bright lights or double vision.
- Dry eyes. LASIK surgery causes a temporary decrease in tear production. As your eyes heal, they might feel unusually dry.
- Flap problems. Folding back or removing the flap from the front of your eye during surgery can cause complications, including infection, excess tears and swelling.