LASIK Clearer Vision in the Blink of an Eye

Back in the 1980s, laser-based refractive surgery was first developed as a safe, precise and fast way to correct myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), and astigmatism by reshaping the cornea. The result was16826540_xl permanently improved vision without the need for glasses or contact lenses. Since then, the effects – and technology – have only gotten better. Of the refractive eye surgeries available today, the most popular is LASIK (laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis), first approved by the FDA in 1999. Shortly thereafter, Dr. Joseph Zeiter began performing it for patients in the San Joaquin area, the first in the area to do so.

Even after all that time, Dr. Zeiter still remains impressed with the procedure’s results. It’s so effective that vision is vastly improved in a matter of minutes. Literally. In most cases, both eyes can be corrected in 15-20 minutes. To be eligible for LASIK, as with most other kinds of surgery, your body needs to be able to adequately heal itself. You must be in general good health, with no autoimmune diseases like Sjogren’s syndrome, arthritis, diabetes, HIV or AIDS. LASIK is also not recommended for women who are pregnant or nursing, as hormones can affect the shape of the eye. When it comes to the eyes themselves, the ideal LASIK candidate is someone over 18 years old with mild to moderate myopia, hyperopia or astigmatism who has been kept stable for at least a year and with adequate corneal thickness. The overall health of the eyes is generally good, with no infections, keloids or other serious ailments, including dry eye syndrome.

So, how exactly does LASIK work? The patient is kept awake for the entire procedure. The eye surgeon applies numbing drops to alleviate any discomfort. There is no pain, just a bit of pressure. But even with such reassurances, patients are often tense, so Valium or Ativan is also administered to keep them relaxed. The eyelids are held open with a special speculum, and then the eye itself is held still by a suction cup in order to create a circular flap in the cornea. It is this flap that sets LASIK apart from other refractive surgeries and minimizes post-surgical discomfort. This flap is usually created by a microkeratome, a handheld tool that makes an incision as it travels around the cornea, creating a flap in about 15 seconds. Alternately, a method called InterLase can create the flap using rapid pulses of laser light, which form a microscopic layer of bubbles just underneath the surface of the cornea.

The flap is folded back to expose the corneal tissue underneath, which is then sculpted using an excimer laser. The laser removes microscopic amounts of the cornea to reshape it and refocus the light coming into the cornea. If someone is nearsighted, the cornea is flattened. If farsighted, the cornea is made steeper. And in cases of astigmatism, the irregular surface of the cornea is smoothed out. The flap is set back into place, and the cornea is allowed to heal naturally. Within 24 hours (if not sooner), patients can experience improved vision, although it can take several days for full healing and to experience the crystal clear vision of their newly sculpted eyes. According to Dr. Zeiter, the biggest downside to LASIK is that it’s still considered an elective cosmetic surgery by insurance companies. This means that the cost of the surgery–which can be upwards of $5,000 for both eyes–is an out-of-pocket expense. On the other hand, most of the patients who have the procedure find it a small price to pay for being able to see clearly again.

For more information on LASIK surgery or other ophthalmological procedures:

Zeiter Eye Medical Group
(209) 466-5566,