One of the most effective treatment methods for people with vision problems—LASIK surgery—is preferred by people who wish to get rid of their glasses. There has been debate about the merit and associated risks of the surgery, but the benefits far outweigh the risks. It is a simple procedure that can be performed again if the need arises, which is uncommon.
The goal of LASIK eye surgery is to correct the refractive error in the eye and improve the vision. People who undergo this surgery don’t require their glasses and/or contact lenses as much and some can stop using them altogether.
To learn more about the procedure, recovery time, and LASIK eye surgery cost in India, keep reading.
What is LASIK surgery?
LASIK stands for ‘laser assisted in-situ keratomileusis’, where in-situ means ‘on site’ and keratomileusis means ‘reshaping of the cornea’. The principle of this surgery is to reshape the eye to correct the refractive surface. It is a type of laser eye surgery that is quite popular for correcting eyesight problems. LASIK is a quick outpatient procedure that takes no more than a few minutes to perform. However, the recovery can take up to a few weeks.
Light rays reflected by every object travel through the cornea and the lens of your eye, which allows you to see. The corneas of people with normal vision refract (or bend) the light in such a way that it hits the retina at the back of the eye, allowing the brain to interpret those signals and form images. But the cornea of people who have vision problems refracts the light incorrectly, resulting in blurred vision. They have to use additional tools, such as spectacles and/or contact lenses, to be able to see clearly.
LASIK surgery alters the shape of the cornea by using a laser if the eye does not bend light rays properly. This type of refractive surgery improves the passage of light rays and allows these rays to focus them on your retina, enabling clear vision. It is a well-known surgery commonly preferred by people who have to wear glasses or use contact lenses.
There are different laser eye surgeries apart from LASIK, which are used to correct the eye’s refractive error, such as photorefractive keratectomy (PRK). The LASIK surgery has also been advanced to correct the eye without cutting a flap in the cornea and damaging nerves. Small incision lenticule extraction (SMILE) surgery is a procedure that uses a smaller incision than LASIK laser eye surgery and has a faster recovery rate. However, the doctor will tell the patient their eligibility for different procedures based on a physical examination of your eyes.
Why is LASIK surgery done?
LASIK surgery is recommended to people who have vision problems, such as the following:
- Myopia or near-sightedness
People with this condition have slightly longer eyeballs than normal causing their corneas to curve sharply. This results in light rays focusing in front of the retina and blurry vision. This condition affects the person’s ability to see far away objects, but usually does not impact their close-range vision.
- Hyperopia or farsightedness
People with this condition have slightly shorter eyeballs than normal, which makes their corneas a little too flat. This creates the focal point of light rays beyond the retina and blurred vision. Hyperopia allows people to see far away objects more clearly than nearby objects.
The corneas of people with this condition have uneven curvature, which can create different focal points beyond and/or in front of the retina. This leads to blurred vision of both nearby and distant objects.
People who meet the following requirements are eligible to undergo a LASIK surgery:
- Ideal age is 21 years or older, but sometimes people above 18 can also get LASIK eye surgery done.
- No changes should have been seen in the eyesight (power of your glasses) in one year before the surgery.
- The overall health should be good, and the corneas should be thick and healthy.
- Refractive range for myopia should be up to −10 dpt, for hyperopia should be up to +4 dpt, and for astigmatism should be up to 5 dpt.
Everybody is not eligible for the LASIK surgery as the procedure may cause unwanted complications for people who have conditions like an unstable refractive error, severely dry eyes, and/or cataract.
Benefits and risks of LASIK surgery
The LASIK surgery has been around for over 25 years and is a fairly reliable treatment for people with refractive errors in their eyes. Some of the most prominent benefits of laser assisted in-situ keratomileusis are listed here:
- Majority of the patients who undergo LASIK surgery (about 96%) are able to achieve their vision goals after the surgery. Additional enhancement or repeat LASIK procedure can help others improve their vision even further.
- The procedure does not take more than a few minutes to complete, and there is little to no discomfort during the surgery.
- LASIK surgery does not cause any scars, and people don’t need any stitches or bandages post-surgery (other protective gears are used).
- In case you experience any changes in your vision (uncommon), the surgeon can repeat the procedure and correct it.
- There is usually little or no need for glasses or contact lenses after LASIK surgery.
As with any other surgery, LASIK surgery also has potential risks and complications, including the following:
- Dry eyes
It is very common for people to experience a temporary decrease in tear production after the LASIK surgery. During the healing process, your eyes may feel extremely dry, which may affect the quality of your vision. Putting in artificial tear drops can help.
- Double vision, halos, and glares
Patients experience difficulty seeing at night after the surgery, which can last up to a few days or few weeks. Increased light sensitivity, halos, and/or glares are common with double vision or bright lights. People who have good vision in well-lit areas can also have difficulty seeing in low-light.
- Under or over-corrections
If the surgeon removes too little or too much of the tissue during LASIK, you will not get clear vision and may need another surgery to fix the error; over-corrections are more difficult to fix than under-corrections.
Although uncommon, some people experience their vision slowly changing back to the original state before the surgery.
Preparing for the surgery
A doctor (an ophthalmologist) will assess the eye condition for the operation during a consultation by examining the eyes to check for any infection, inflammation, dry eyes, large pupils, or high blood pressure. After checking everything, the doctor will share a suitable date for the surgery. During this consultation, the doctor will discuss the risks with the patient as well.
It is important to note that LASIK surgery is not covered by many insurance plans. Thus, you may have to pay for surgery out of your own pocket. LASIK surgery costs in India range from INR 16,000 to INR 1,25,000 depending on various factors, such as location and expertise of the surgeon.
LASIK eye surgery procedure
During the procedure, the patient will be laying flat on their back or in a reclining chair. The patient may be administered local anaesthesia to help them relax. The complete procedure usually takes about 30 minutes or less.
The surgeon will start by cleaning the eye area and put numbing drops in the eye by using an instrument to hold the eyes open. Once the numbing medicine takes effect, they will start the procedure. A suction ring will be placed on the eye first and the patient will notice pressure on their eye and vision will diminish, which is normal.
The surgeon will then create a flap in the cornea by using a small blade or laser. This flap is then folded backwards to allow the doctor to access and reshape the cornea. Using a laser, the surgeon will reshape the eye and remove corneal tissue to correct the refractive error; this takes about 30–60 seconds in total. After this, the surgeon will place the flap in its original position and observe for a few minutes as the cornea reattaches itself; no stitches are required. The doctor will then move to the next eye in the same session, if the patient needs LASIK for both eyes.
Post-surgery care and recovery
Immediately after the surgery, the patient will notice itchiness, burning, or gritty sensation in the eye. The doctor will place a protective covering on the eye to prevent the patient from scratching or rubbing the eye.
The patient will be prescribed pain relievers in addition to anti-biopics, anti-inflammatory, and artificial tear drops. It is important to follow the prescription and other instructions strictly to recover faster and eliminate any chances of any complications.
The post-surgery recovery time can take about 2–3 weeks before one can resume normal daily activities. The patient should avoid lifting heavyweights and stressing their eye in front of a computer screen for at least 2–3 days after the surgery.
LASIK laser eye surgery is an outpatient procedure that does not require the patient to stay in the hospital for more than a few hours; thus, the patient will need a ride home. It is better to bring someone along as the patient will not be able to see after the surgery, especially if they had the procedure for both the eye.
Outlook for patients
LASIK surgery is an efficient procedure to improve vision without wearing any additional support. Generally, people have a high chance of recovery a near perfect or perfect vision after the surgery. However, the results may take some time to show. A complete vision recovery may take up to 6 months. During this time, vision will likely fluctuate, but it is important to trust the process and stick to the recommended regimen the doctor gave.
The results of the surgery are variable from person to person, but majority of the patients do not need to wear glasses after the surgery. Rarely, people may require an additional surgery if the refractive power of the eyes changes, but it is better to wait for at least 6 months before making a decision as the recovery may take longer for some patients.