LASIK (laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis), commonly referred to as laser eye surgery or laser vision correction, is a type of refractive surgery for the correction of myopia, hyperopia and astigmatism.
While LASIK is now a household term and a common form of surgery, just a couple of decades ago it was a brand new procedure that intrigued many people who were inconvenienced daily by their contacts and eyeglasses. Further back, researchers experimented with rudimentary techniques of surgical vision correction that involved freezing the cornea before removing connective tissue – a far cry from today’s advanced and precise methods.
The Early Years of LASIK
In 1978, doctors in the United States began performing a procedure called radial keratotomy or RK. This technique entailed several corneal incisions to shape and correct refractive errors. It helped individuals with conditions like nearsightedness and astigmatism to become less dependent on their glasses.
As time progressed, surgeons eventually stopped using sutures to re-attach the cornea and in the late 1980s began using the hinged corneal flap technique that is still practiced today. With this method, the cornea isn’t completely detached from the eye but left on as a flap, which carries a lower risk of complications and less healing time. The development of an automated microkeratome was instrumental in furthering the procedure, as it allowed for even more precise incisions.
Additionally, the 1980s saw the development of the excimer laser, which was originally intended for use in making computer chips but was found to be especially helpful in precisely removing tissue as part of refractive surgery techniques. This method was found to be considerably safer and more effective than RK.
In 1995, the Food and Drug Administration approved a procedure called photorefractive keratectomy, known commonly as PRK, after a successful three-year trial on 1,600 eyes. This flattened the cornea with a laser to treat nearsightedness and has been used in the U.S. and Canada since 1987.
The LASIK we know today consists of a combination of excimer laser technology and surgical incisions using a microkeratome (hand-held blade). During this process, a surgeon uses the microkeratome to cut a corneal flap, and then corrects the shape of the tissue underneath with the laser. The flap is then put back in place and acts as a natural bandage while the eye heals. This method has become a popular method of refractive surgery, as it provides effective results and a short healing time.
LASIK doctors are also able to customize treatment for each patient, taking into account the patient’s degree and type of vision impairment as well as the topography of their eyes.
While LASIK surgery has become relatively common and a popular option for vision correction, not all people who wear glasses or contacts should have the procedure. The success of this form of vision correction relies heavily on whether a patient is a good candidate. Continued education on the doctor’s part is key to determining eye health and vision characteristics.
As LASIK technologies develop further, it is important for both healthcare providers and prospective patients to stay informed on the benefits of laser vision correction.
If you are considering LASIK in Billings, make sure you choose an experienced LASIK doctor who has an excellent success rate for patients. You can learn more about the advances in LASIK technology by scheduling a free LASIK Consultation at The Eye Clinic Surgicenter today. You’ll also learn if your eyes are right for the procedure.