Lt Col Reynolds
The acronym LASIK stands for “laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis,” and is a procedure that permanently changes the shape of the cornea using an excimer laser. Dr. Patel, can you tell us more about this kind of refractive surgery?

Dr. Patel
Sure, Dr. Reynolds. Like other types of refractive surgery, the goal of LASIK is to reshape the cornea so that light traveling through it is properly focused onto the retina.

During LASIK, a drop of numbing solution is placed in the patient's eye, the area around the eye is cleaned, and an instrument called a lid speculum is used to hold the eyelids open. A ring is placed on the eye and suction is applied. Next, a femtosecond laser is used to cut a thin flap in the patient's cornea. After the flap is created, it is folded back, and the exposed tissue is dried.

Next, the excimer laser is positioned over the patient's eye, and the patient is asked to stare at a light. This light is not the laser used to remove tissue from the cornea, but rather a light that helps the patient to keep their eyes fixed on a single spot while the laser is in use.

When the patient's eye is in the correct position, the provider removes corneal tissue using the excimer laser. A computer controls the amount of laser energy delivered to the eye. Before the start of surgery, the provider will have pre-programmed the computer to remove a particular amount of tissue based on the patient's individual needs. After the pulses of laser energy remove the corneal tissue, the flap is then put back into position.

In most cases, a shield is placed over the eye at the end of the procedure. This shield is designed to protect the eye from injury as the flap heals. This is especially important since no stitches are used to hold the flap in place.

Immediately after the surgery, the patient's vision is usually somewhat blurry. In most cases, vision will have improved by the morning after surgery, and will continue to clear for some time. Most discomfort is mild, and is felt in the hours immediately following the procedure.