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If you’ve ever been frustrated by foggy glasses or pollen sticking to your contact lenses, you’ve probably wondered about whether Lasik, the most popular vision correction surgery, is right for you.
We asked Joshua B. Herz, M.D., a NorthShore board certified ophthalmologist, to answer common patient questions about Laser Assisted In-situ Keratomileusis (Lasik) surgery.
How does Lasik work? Dr. Herz: This surgery uses an Excimer laser to remove some tissue from the cornea, the transparent part at the front of your eye. Your cornea will be reshaped to correct your vision, whether you originally had nearsightedness, farsightedness and/or astigmatism.
Are there different types of Lasik? Dr. Herz: Traditional Lasik is done by cutting a flap in the cornea to expose its thickest layer, the stroma. Other versions of this procedure include flapless Lasik, also known as Photorefractive keratectomy (PRK), where the laser is instead in contact with the surface layer. Flapless Lasik has a slightly longer recovery time, but eliminates the chances of flap complications and can also be safely done on patients with thinner corneas. Both procedures take less than 15 minutes.
We also now use a more accurate version of Lasik known as Custom Lasik, where each person receives unique treatment based on the 3D “fingerprint” of their eye created prior to surgery.
Who is eligible? Dr. Herz: A number of factors could impact whether you are a good candidate for the surgery. Your doctor will run tests and ask about your medical history to determine if Lasik will be safe and effective. For example, eye disease, medications that could impact healing, and frequently changing prescriptions would impact whether you are a good fit.
Should I do anything to prepare beforehand? Dr. Herz: Contact lenses slightly change the shape of your eye, which interferes with baseline evaluations. Switch to glasses two weeks before your evaluation if you wear soft contact lenses. If you wear hard contact lenses, wear glasses for at least three weeks before your evaluation (and add another week for every decade you’ve worn hard contacts). It’s also important to follow your doctor’s directions exactly, such as taking eyedrops or antibiotics exactly as prescribed.
How soon will my vision recover? Dr. Herz: Arrange for transportation on the way home for the surgery, since you won’t be able to drive. However, your vision should be recovered enough for driving, going to work, and other normal daily activities the next day. Your doctor will be able to tell you exactly how soon you can return to all activities.
If you are considering Lasik, or have any vision related concerns, visit NorthShore Eye and Vision Center or your preferred provider.