Many patients suffering from myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), and astigmatism use prescription glasses or contact lenses to give them clearer vision. However, advanced technology has made it possible to permanently correct these common vision problems with LASIK surgery. Laser-assisted in-situ keratomileusis, more commonly known as LASIK, is the world’s most common elective procedure and nearly 700,000 were performed last year in the United States alone. Still, many of our patients have questions about what this procedure actually entails and why it works. Dr. William Segal performs LASIK vision correction surgery for patients of all ages from throughout the Atlanta area and beyond.
Our eyes work by translating the patterns of light from the outside world into nerve impulses that our brains can understand. Light enters the iris at the front of the eye and is focused, by the lens, onto the retina at the back of the eye, not unlike the way a movie projector focuses an image on a screen. Photoreceptive nerve cells that line the retina then transmit this information along the optic nerve into the brain. However, tiny imperfections in the curve of the cornea, called refractive errors, can warp or distort the retina. When this “screen” is no longer correctly positioned, the resulting image can be out of focus. Normally, refractive errors can be corrected by adding an artificial lens, in the form of glasses or contacts, in front of the eye, shifting the focal point from where the retina should be to where it actually is. However LASIK surgery works differently, reshaping the cornea itself so that light can focus on the retina properly, without the need for external lenses.
Although LASIK surgery sounds like it would be extremely time-consuming, the procedure itself is actually very fast and virtually painless. Before the eye is even exposed to a laser, an automated instrument called a corneal topographer is used to measure the curvature of the front surface of the eye and create a “map” of the cornea. This allows Dr. Segal to determine exactly where changes need to be made. A tiny, circular flap is then cut into the cornea, providing access to the interior of the eye. Originally, the flap was created using a surgical instrument with an oscillating blade called a microkeratome, but now we are able to create a flap much more quickly and precisely using the IntraLase© femtosecond laser, the most advanced technology available. At this point, the refractive errors can be corrected with an excimer laser, which produces a tightly focused beam of ultraviolet light. This beam itself is microscopic, significantly narrower than a single human hair, and does not heat the surrounding air or the surface of the eye. Instead it breaks down the molecular bonds of organic materials, vaporizing a microscopic amount of excess corneal tissue. Dr. Segal precisely controls the size, position, and number of laser pulses applied based on the information gathered by the corneal topographer in order to reshape curve of the cornea into a more efficient shape. The flap is then restored to its original position, where it naturally adheres into place.
This kind of surgery requires a great deal of skill and precision, but it can usually be performed in as little as 15 to 30 minutes for both eyes. While LASIK surgery is not suitable for all candidates, it can improve the vision of those suffering from nearsightedness, farsightedness, and even astigmatism and enjoys a more than 95% satisfaction rate. It is possible that eyes can be under-corrected or overcorrected or a slight wrinkle may form when the corneal flap is replaced, but these minor complications can be easily fixed with a second LASIK revision procedure. If you are interested in LASIK vision correction, or would like to schedule an eye exam to determine if you are a suitable candidate, please contact Georgia Eye Physicians and Surgeons to make an appointment. Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ for more information on how to keep your vision clear.