woman with a pair of beautiful eyes

Ultimate Guide To Lasik Surgery

Should I Get Lasik? Everything You Need To Know Before Getting LASIK

woman with a pair of beautiful eyes

What exactly is Lasik and how does it work?

If you’re like me in the past, you probably believe that lasik is a high risk procedure with great rewards -- you either score a perfect vision like a newborn, or you go blind forever. (no, you won't go blind forever. At least not immediately)

And the thought of some dude touching my eyeballs with equipment and lasers? I still fidget and become really uncomfortable -- like someone with trypophobia (fear of clusters of small holes) having an image of a hand filled with thousands of small holes downloaded into their brain.

Without further ado, let’s discuss business.

LASIK -- “laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis”, is the most popular eye surgery for nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism.

This 15-minute, pain-free surgery reshapes the cornea using lasers to make light entering the eye to be directly focused onto the retina, resulting in sharp vision.

Once the procedure is over, you might immediately notice improved eyesight without the aid of contact lenses or glasses, and your vision will continue to get sharper over the next few days.

90% of LASIK patients reported 20/20 or better vision, while 99% of patients reported 20/40 vision or better.


What you can expect out of a LASIK surgery

  1. Corrects vision back to near perfect vision. The lower your degree, the higher chance for a better vision after lasik.

  2. Painless surgery due to numbing drops, but patients reported that the surgery can feel weird or uncomfortable.

  3. No stitches or any bandages needed.

  4. Large decrease in dependency on spectacles or contact lenses. Most patients throw them away.

Why LASIK is so popular

2 Pilots flying a plane with great eyesight
For some people in certain industries where eyewear is not suitable, (think pilots, athletes, soldiers, firefighters, etc) LASIK is often an extremely popular option to put their eyewear to sleep.

There are also professions like artists, photographers, engineers, and scientists, where sharp & accurate vision holds paramount importance in deciding the quality of their work.

According to Eye & Laser Centre, these are 11 occupations (but not limited to) that require excellent vision:
  • Firefighters
  • Airline Pilots and Air Traffic Controllers
  • Defence Force Personnel
  • Police
  • Web Developers
  • Surgeons and Paramedics
  • Photographers
  • Lifeguards
  • Construction Workers
  • Hospitality Workers
  • Parents

But LASIK doesn’t just give you a boost in your job performance and career. The benefits of it for play is just as attractive.

Without the need for eyewear, you’ll be able to enjoy sports way more, like playing basketball or soccer without the constant fear that your spectacles will be drilled into your face by the ball.

Especially swimming -- say goodbye to prescription goggles.

But in our humble opinion, you don’t need to desire a eyewear-free sport or job experience to get LASIK. You could just want to enjoy sharp vision and the freedom from spectacles or contacts.

Who LASIK is not for

As LASIK is a laser eye surgery, it is appropriate for people who don’t have existing vision problems. Such vision problems may cause complications or disappointing outcomes.

They include, but not limited to:

  • Eye disease that progressively deteriorates vision through the thinning of your cornea

  • Herpes, keratitis or uveitis, along with any other eye infections

  • Dry eyes. LASIK might worsen the dryness

  • Cataracts

  • Glaucoma

  • Large pupils. They increase the likelihood of glare, halos, and starbursts

  • Eye injuries or disorders

  • People below 18 years old

    Furthermore, there are also several other reasons why LASIK may not be the right option:

    1. Your vision is decent. If you only require the aid of glasses for short periods, the risk of long term discomfort from LASIK may be something you need to consider.

    2. Your face regularly receives blows. Contact sports such as boxing or Muay Thai may result in your eye condition worsening due to repeated blows.

    3. If your vision prescription is still fluctuating. Majority of doctors advise LASIK only if your prescription has been stable for the past 1-2 years.

    4. Taking certain prescription drugs. For example, certain steroids might affect the outcome.

    The risk of LASIK surgery

    With at least 99% of people achieving 20/40 vision or better, LASIK will very likely give you sharp vision.

    But that doesn’t mean it won’t come with negative side effects -- sometimes temporary, sometimes for life.

    Let’s look at some of the risks:

    1. Dry eyes

      Lasik may cause a reduction in tear production, resulting in eye discomfort and/or blurred sight. According to the American Journal of Ophthalmology, close to half of all patients experience a certain degree of dry eye syndrome temporarily. The dryness usually goes away after your eyes heal, but in some cases, this dryness could last up to 6 months.

      In very rare cases, this dryness may last years or even decades.

    2. Irregular astigmatism

      It may result in undesirable symptoms like double vision (“ghost images”)

    3. Keratectasia/keratoconus

      Your eye surface may over-bulge if too much cornea tissue is accidentally removed during the surgery. Without appropriate and prompt treatment, this can lead to vision impairment, but not total blindness.

    4. Eye infections

      Can be cured with medicated eye drops.

    5. Diffuse Lamellar Keratitis

      This is when there is uncontrolled inflammation of the cornea, leading to slow healing and potentially vision loss. They can be reversed with medication and professional removal of the inflammatory cells.

    Alternatives to LASIK surgery for better vision

    If you’re not a good candidate for LASIK, there are also other alternatives you can consider.

    1. Photorefractive Keratectomy (PRK)

      The surgeon will remove the cornea’s top layer using the same exact laser as LASIK. What separates them is the layer of the cornea being targeted by the laser. This process will reshape the layer to adjust the curvature of your cornea, making it a great alternative for thin corneas.

      The biggest difference, sometimes also the deal breaker, is that PRK surgery requires a month to heal, while LASIK is just a couple of days.

    2. Laser Epithelial keratomileusis (LASEK)

      LASEK is another version of PRK, and it can be used to treat problems like astigmatism, nearsightedness, and farsightedness. During the surgery, the microscopic outer layer of cells on the cornea is carefully removed, before the laser corrects the surface of the cornea.

    3. Refractive Lens Exchange

      This is when your natural lens is surgically removed and replaced with intraocular lenses. The surgery procedure has similarities to cataract surgery.

    4. Small Incision Lenticule Extraction (SMILE)

      A small incision is made in the cornea using a femtosecond laser, which modifies the cornea’s curvature and improves the sharpness of vision.

    We recommend going to a professional for a custom-tailored diagnosis on which procedure is best for your situation.

    Choosing the right eye surgeon

    According to the American Refractive Surgery Council , there are five key qualifications to look for in a surgeon:

    • The surgeon should be experienced, preferably with at least 10,000 successful surgeries performed.
    • Make sure the surgeon meets industry standards with their LASIK screening process.
    • Be comfortable with your surgeon. They should be eager to give informed answers to any questions you have.
    • You shouldn’t feel pressured to have LASIK done, and the consultation shouldn’t feel like a sales pitch.
    • Look out for surgeons who over-promise results. LASIK is intended to improve vision, not necessarily perfect it.
    In medicine, there is no such thing as a 100% guarantee, so be wary of clinics that claim so.

    Lasik is a life-changing decision that enables a 1000 degree myopic person to wake up the next day with possibly perfect 20/20 vision.

    At the same time, it may also cause serious symptoms like dry eyes and starbursts that could last for months to years in rare cases.

    Do take the time to carefully consider if LASIK is the best choice for you. In permanent decisions like these, it’s better to dwell on it more than less.

    Over-research if you have to, ask friends and relatives about their LASIK experience, and most importantly, clear any doubts and concerns with your eye surgeon.

    Your eye surgeon is there to help you gain clarity on whether this procedure is really the best for you. Request for them to walk you through the entire procedure, from the risks & complications to how the actual surgery will flow and look like.

    A person’s experience of the LASIK procedure

    So I lay on the bed, they give me stress balls to squeeze, start asking me questions about teaching to take my mind off of what they're about to do. The bed itself moves under laser #1 which is the flap machine. They put numbing drops in my eyes and then put this suction cup thing on my eye which definitely feels awkward af and is uncomfortable.

    They tell me to stare at some dot and to count 20 seconds. They zapped the flap. Repeat with second eye. Then the bed moves to laser #2. I'm like, uncertain if I can blink or not. They just made the flap, what if i blink and break everything? Apparently this wasn't an issue. They then put that speculum-thing on my eye lids, and I see a little metal thing go over my eye which I know is lifting up the flap (so weird!), and they tell me just to stare up. It looks like the inside of Space Mountain at Disney World. All different colored lights. They didn't tell me to stare at much of anything, just to try to keep still. I looked at the dot in the middle.

    They said to count down from 5. You hear a noise like sparks being generated and there's a SMELL which they tell you is the laser. The smell is light the smell of sparks or lightning. I don't know how else to describe it. They put the flap back down, lots of drops (they're constantly putting drops in during the whole thing). They repeat with the other eye. Bed moves back to the central position, they have me sit up and look at the clock that was maybe 20 feet away. I can read it. I don't remember what time it was. I was in the room for all of 10, maybe 15 minutes.

    Final Thoughts

    Do more research on this subject, and most importantly, get a custom-tailored diagnosis by a trusted eye surgeon on whether you’re a suitable candidate for LASIK.

    Remember, once you do LASIK and end up with negative side effects, there might be no going back. So make sure to invest in a highly experienced surgeon. You get what you pay for.

    Whether you choose to go ahead with LASIK or not, just make a decision that you won’t regret.
    Yu Wei Lee
    Yu Wei Lee
    Yuwei is extremely smart and curious about everything. He has the ability to store knowledge and solve problems independently using inductive and deductive reasoning. Those that know him well enough can find him a little mischievous.

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