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I've been wearing glasses and contact lenses for years, and I wish I could get rid of them.”

Surgery Options

LASIK Surgery

About


For anyone who wears glasses or contact lenses, the chance to see more clearly with your own eyes is an exciting idea.

The goal of LASIK is to reduce or eliminate refractive errors including nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism, so you can rely less on glasses and contacts.

LASIK vision correction has the highest patient satisfaction rate of any elective surgery: 95.4%, according to a 10-year survey of scientific studies from around the world. And new advances in technology now deliver better outcomes than ever.

The majority of patients enjoy 20/20 vision or better after laser vision correction. Nearly all patients achieve 20/40 or better, which is fully functional and good enough to drive legally in most states without corrective lenses.

Keep in mind-if you’ve developed symptoms of farsightedness later in life (after about age 40), you may have presbyopia rather than farsightedness. LASIK may still be able to help, but you should also consider other presbyopia surgeries.

How LASIK works

    LASIK, which stands for laser in-situ keratomileusis, uses a highly specialized laser-called an excimer laser-to reshape the cornea and give you focused vision.

    An excimer laser emits pulses of concentrated, cool, invisible ultraviolet light. When targeted to specific spots on the cornea, it gently and precisely reshapes the cornea by removing extremely tiny amounts of tissue (25 100,000ths of a millimeter at a time), without disturbing other tissue.

    There are a number of types of LASIK and different laser vision correction techniques (see other surgeries) to choose from. Your surgeon will carefully evaluate your eyes, health history and refractive error, as well as your age, lifestyle and career considerations to help you decide if LASIK is right for you and which type is best for you.

Is LASIK right for you?

    People interested in laser vision correction often say:

    • Glasses and contacts are uncomfortable, expensive and easy to lose or break.
    • I want to get out there and play sports, travel and live an active life-without depending on glasses or contacts.
    • I want to be able to read the alarm clock in the morning.
    • I’d feel safer about everything from swimming in the ocean to finding my way at night if I didn’t need to wear glasses or contacts.
    • Taking care of my contact lenses is too time-consuming.
    • I would be able to work more effectively if I could see better through my own eyes.
    • I’d feel better about my appearance if I didn’t have to wear glasses.

    These are the main reasons people get LASIK. They’re also the same reasons so many people are satisfied with the results.

    If you are nearsighted, farsighted or astigmatic, LASIK may be able to help. If you’re over age 40 and also have presbyopia or cataracts, other surgical options may be even better for you. Learn more about presbyopia surgery and cataract surgery.

    If you’re under age 40 and are nearsighted, farsighted or astigmatic, learn more about the types of LASIK surgery to see which one may be right for you.

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Glossary

Not sure what a particular term means? Click on words in bold to pull up the glossary tab.

FAQ

If I'm not eligible for LASIK, are there other options available to me?

    Some patients are not good candidates for LASIK surgery because of eye health, overall health or various lifestyle factors. However, if you are not eligible for LASIK, you may still be a good candidate for an alternative surgical procedure such as PRK, LASEK, Epi-LASIK or a non-laser vision correction procedure. Talk with your ophthalmologist about your surgical options.

I’m happy with my contact lenses. Should I have LASIK?

    Most surgeons agree that if you are comfortable wearing contact lenses and are not bothered by being dependent on them, you should carefully evaluate the risks and benefits of LASIK before making a decision.

Is LASIK a good choice for pilots and military personnel?

    Yes. Although there are differing policies about LASIK and other types of refractive surgery for each branch of the military and for active duty personnel in certain jobs, many pilots and members of the military can have LASIK, including NASA astronauts, military aviators and commercial pilots.

Can I have LASIK if I play extreme contact sports?

    Many members of the military, pilots and professional football and basketball players have had successful LASIK procedures. However, regular participation in contact sports such as boxing or wrestling may disqualify you for LASIK. If you are disqualified for LASIK because of these types of activities, other surgeries such as PRK may be a more appropriate option.

Glossary Entries

Astigmatism
Common vision problem and type of refractive error. Caused by either irregularity in the curvature of the cornea or the lens of the eye. People with astigmatism generally have difficulty seeing fine details at all distances. Treated with corrective lenses, laser vision correction or toric IOLs.

Cataract
Clouding of the eye's lens that blocks passage of light to the retina, resulting in impaired vision. Often a result of normal aging, cataracts form when protein clumps cloud areas of the eye's lens. As the cataract progresses, vision worsens and often requires surgical replacement of the damaged lens with an artificial one.

Cornea
Clear, curved surface at the front of the eye through which light enters the eye. Along with the sclera (the white part of the eye), provides external protection for the eye. Often called the window of the eye. During many types of vision correction surgery, such as LASIK, the cornea is reshaped to reduce or eliminate the main types of refractive error - nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism.

Farsighted, farsightedness (or hyperopia)
Common vision problem and type of refractive error. Caused by too little curvature of the cornea or too little distance between the front of the eye and the retina at the back. Both structural defects cause light entering the eye to focus incorrectly on the retina, resulting in blurred close-up vision. Treated with corrective lenses, laser vision correction or multifocal or accommodative IOLs.

Keratomileusis
Reshaping of the cornea which was done with a lathe and blade before the development of LASIK techniques.

Laser vision correction
A class of surgeries where a laser is used to reshape the cornea to correct refractive errors. LASIK, PRK, LASEK and Epi-LASIK are all types of laser vision correction.

LASIK (laser in-situ keratomileusis) surgery
Type of laser surgery in which the cornea is reshaped to improve vision. Either a microkeratome or a femtosecond laser is used to surgically create a thin, hinged flap of corneal tissue. The flap is folded back, and an excimer laser is directed to the corneal surface exposed beneath the flap to reshape the cornea for corrected vision. Then the flap is brought back into place.

Nearsighted, nearsightedness (or myopia)
Common vision problem and type of refractive error. Caused by either too much curvature of the cornea or too much distance between the front of the eye and the retina at the back. Both structural defects cause light entering the eye to focus incorrectly on the retina, resulting in blurred distance vision. Treated with corrective lenses, laser vision correction or multifocal or accommodative IOLs.

Presbyopia
Also called age-related focus dysfunction. Common vision problem that develops naturally over time. Characterized by loss of the eye's ability to focus at close distances or on fine details. Treated with reading glasses, contact lenses, presbyopia laser vision correction (also called LASIK monovision) or presbyopia lens replacement surgery.

Refractive error
Irregularities in the cornea, lens or shape of the eye that prevent correct focus at any distance.

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