What’s the Difference Between LASIK and LASEK?

LASIK and LASEK sound practically identical, and they do share many commonalities. Both procedures are used to correct refractive errors, including myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), and astigmatism. Both surgeries also use an advanced Excimer laser to carefully reshape your cornea, and they involve creating a flap on the cornea in order to apply treatment.

However, there is a key difference between these two surgeries. During LASIK, your corneal flap is made in both the epithelium and stroma layers of the eye, with a thickness ranging from 100 to 180 microns. During LASEK, the flap is strictly made in the epithelium layer – the thinnest, topmost layer of your cornea – to a thickness of only around 50 microns. This makes LASEK an excellent choice for patients who have very thin corneas, and may not be good candidates for LASIK based on this characteristic.

LASEK also involves a slightly longer recover period, with the potential for some post-operative discomfort. However, some side effects that are common with LASIK – such as dry eyes – are less common among LASEK patients. Finallly, LASEK involves more contraindications than LASIK. Your ophthalmologist will discuss these factors in more detail with you during a personal consultation to determine which procedure is right for you.

If you are interested in taking advantage of laser vision correction, please contact an experienced eye surgeon in your area today.

Dry Eyes and LASIK

Dry eyes are one of the most common LASIK complications, affecting nearly 50% of all patients who undergo laser vision correction. Fortunately, this condition is temporary in most LASIK patients and will gradually subside within 6-12 months after surgery. However, a small percentage of patients experience long term dry eye issues which may impact them for the rest of their lives.

Patients who suffer from dry eyes after LASIK fail to produce a sufficient amount of tears to keep their eyes properly lubricated. This is commonly caused by nerve damage to the cornea during laser vision correction. When the corneal flap is created allowing your eye surgeon to reshape your cornea during LASIK, there is a chance the corneal nerves responsible for tear production can be cut, resulting in dry eyes.

Common symptoms of dry eyes include:

  • Scratch or sandy feeling in your eyes
  • Stringy discharge from the eyes
  • Heaviness of the eyelids
  • Stinging or burning sensation in the eyes
  • Blurred, changing, or decreased vision
  • Periods of excess tearing followed by extended periods of a dry sensation
  • Pain and redness in the eyes

Because dry eyes are such a common LASIK complication, patients who suffer from dry eye syndrome prior to surgery may not be suitable candidates for LASIK. During your consultation, your LASIK surgeon should discuss these risks with you in detail before recommending the ideal procedure to achieve your refractive surgery goals.

Please contact eyes.com today to find an experienced LASIK surgeon in your area.

What to Expect from the LASIK Recovery Process

LASIK eye surgery involves a very short recovery period, which is one of its major benefits for patients. Knowing what to expect during this recovery period can help you ensure a smooth healing process. During the first couple of nights, your LASIK surgeon may require you to wear a protective eye shield while you sleep. You should also be provided with antibiotic eyedrops to guard your eyes against the chance of infection.

Since you will be extra-sensitive to light for the next few days, keep dark glasses around and wear them as often as possible. Try not to read, use a computer, or watch TV for the first 24 hours after LASIK, since this can cause eye strain that interferes with your eyes’ healing process. You can expect to feel a slight gritty sensation in your eyes; this is normal. Whatever you do, don’t rub your eyes, since this can cause the corneal flap to dislodge before it has a chance to heal properly.

Here are some other tips to keep in mind while you are recovering from LASIK:

  • Don’t shower for the first 24 hours after LASIK; instead, take a bath.
  • During the first week, avoid getting water in your eyes from washing your face or showering.
  • Avoid eye makeup.
  • Don’t drink any alcohol for at least 48 hours after your procedure.

If you have more questions about LASIK, please contact an experienced ophthalmologist in your area today to schedule an initial consultation.

Are You Too Old For LASIK?

There is no definite upper age limit for LASIK. Your general health and the health of your eyes are much bigger factors in deciding your LASIK candidacy than your age. As you get older, however, you will probably face different age-related vision problems that LASIK cannot correct, such as presbyopia and cataracts.

Cataract surgery must be performed before LASIK surgery is possible. If you are past your early 40s and are starting to experience presbyopia symptoms, you may still need to use reading glasses after undergoing LASIK. Since presbyopia is a problem with your lens, not your cornea, LASIK cannot directly treat it, although it can still correct your distance vision.

A different LASIK option for older patients is monovision. This treatment, which can be achieved with LASIK techniques, is designed as an alternative to reading glasses. With monovision, one of your eyes is corrected for distance vision, while the other is corrected for near vision. Your brain decides which eye should be used depending on the object you are focusing on.

If you have further questions about LASIK candidacy, find an experienced ophthalmologist in your area today to schedule an initial consultation.

Lifestyle Factors and LASIK Candidacy

There are many factors which may impact whether you are an ideal candidate for LASIK. While many of these factors are medically related and deal with issues such as the health of your eyes or the thickness of your corneas, there are also several factors that specifically deal with your lifestyle.

Your level of activity may impact your ability to heal after LASIK. People who engage in contact sports may be ruled out as a candidate for LASIK since these sports increase your risk of an eye injury following LASIK. However, if you are willing to refrain from participating in contact sports while your eyes heal, you may still be able to undergo the procedure.

LASIK can make activities such as swimming, scuba diving, or water skiing much more enjoyable, but you will need to avoid water sports for one to two weeks after LASIK to prevent the development of infection while you heal.

High altitude sports such as skiing or mountain climbing may also impact your LASIK candidacy. High altitudes tend to increase your risk of dry eyes, a common complication following LASIK. In order to reduce your risk of dry eyes, you will want to refrain from these activities while your eyes heal.

It is important to discuss these and other lifestyle choices with your LASIK surgeon during your initial consultation to ensure you are a proper candidate for the procedure.

Please contact eyes.com today to find an experienced LASIK surgeon near you.

New Adhesive May Aid in LASIK Safety

Researchers at Kansas State University have developed a new adhesive with the goal of reducing risks in LASIK surgery. Research shows that a new protocol that involves using ultraviolet light, fibrinogen, and riboflavin may improve the glue to keep the corneal flap in place.

According to those involved in the research, the best corneal flap adhesion is a glue created with the combination of riboflavin and fibrinogen, and then adding binding proteins and ultraviolet light. The ultraviolet light is the same kind used in tanning salons. This is also a nontoxic biodegradable glue used during cataract surgery.

The flap detaching from the cataract is a major risk after LASIK surgery because, once the lens is cut to get to the cornea to be reshaped, the attachment between the cornea and the surface is permanently weakened. If an accident occurs and the flap is knocked loose, the cornea itself can be contaminated, which may result in the need for a corneal transplant.

Although corneal transplants, which replace just a part of the existing cornea, are the most common type of organ transplant, and are a routine outpatient procedure, the Mayo Clinic reports nearly 20 percent of them fail. So, chalk up corneal transplant as an outlier risk of LASIK surgery.

A second study analyzed reactions of the glue at the molecular level to see exactly how the adhesion works. There is hope the glue can be further developed for applications in different medical treatments throughout the body.

If you would like to learn more about LASIK procedures or how to care for your eyes post-LASIK surgery, please find an experienced eye surgeon in your area through eyes.com today.

Wavefront Diagnosis for LASIK Procedures

While Wavefront technology has been used by astronomers for many years, the technology is relatively new to LASIK procedures. It is used by eye surgeons to more accurately diagnose irregularities with your eye. As a result, Wavefront diagnosis allows LASIK surgeons to achieve greater levels of precision with your procedure.

Wavefront diagnosis creates a three-dimensional map of your eyes, allowing your eye surgeon to customize your procedure based on your eye’s unique measurements. Each eye is mapped independently since no two eyes are exactly alike. This provides you with a significant improvement in the quality of vision correction that can be achieved with your LASIK procedure.

Traditional LASIK diagnostic methods were only able to correct for lower order aberrations such as myopia, hyperopia, and astigmatism. By using Wavefront diagnosis, your LASIK surgeon can also correct for higher order aberrations such as:

  • Glare and halos
  • Starbursts
  • Ghosting (a faint second image)

Wavefront technology also increases your chances of achieving 20/20 vision after your LASIK procedure, improves your night vision, and reduces your risk of LASIK complications. In addition, Wavefront diagnosis can also be used to achieve enhanced results with other refractive surgery procedures such as:

  • PRK
  • IntraLase
  • ilasik
  • Epi-LASIK

Please contact eyes.com today to find an experienced LASIK surgeon in your area.

What is 20/20 Vision?

A person who has 20/20 vision does not necessarily have perfect vision in all regards. 20/20 vision simply means you have normal clarity of vision (called “visual acuity”) when looking at objects at a distance of 20 feet. In contrast, someone with 20/100 vision has to be 20 feet away from an object in order to see it as clearly as a person with normal visual acuity does at 100 feet.

Someone with 20/20 vision may still have problems with other vision factors, such as:

  • Depth perception
  • Side vision (peripheral awareness)
  • Color vision
  • Eye coordination
  • Focusing ability

While 20/20 vision is considered excellent for a human being, many types of animals (including birds of prey) have 20/10 or better natural vision. Some people who undergo LASIK eye surgery experience 20/15 or better visual acuity.

If you are interested in taking advantage of LASIK eye surgery to correct your vision, please contact an experienced ophthalmologist in your area today.

Femtosecond Laser May Reduce Risk of Myopic Regression after LASIK

A significant fraction of LASIK patients may experience myopic regression after LASIK. When this occurs, the results of LASIK will decline toward increased myopia (nearsightedness) after treatment. It’s not known exactly what is the frequency of this condition, but some studies have suggested it might be as high as 20% during the first six months and as high as 25% after a year. Patients with high myopia (at least 10 diopters) are at the greatest risk for this complication.

A recent study suggests that the use of the microkeratome may be partly to blame for this, and that LASIK patients may be more likely to retain the quality of their LASIK results if the procedure is performed using a femtosecond laser. The study, published in the Journal of Cataract and Refractive Surgery looked at the long-term results of 786 LASIK patients, 377 who had LASIK performed with a microkeratome, 409 performed with a femtosecond laser. Follow-ups were performed for both groups at one week and 12 months after surgery.

Researchers defined myopic regression as a combination of a myopic shift of 0.5 diopters (about 1 line on the Snellen chart) or more with residual myopia of 0.5 diopters or less. Using this definition, the risk for myopic regression after LASIK with a microkeratome was 67%, compared to 44% risk for femtosecond laser LASIK.

This study is part of the growing body of evidence that, although subtle, femtosecond lasers may actually result in significantly better LASIK results than microkeratomes.

To discuss a possible LASIK procedure with a doctor, please contact a local ophthalmologist.

Accutane and Eye Infections

The once-popular acne medication known as Accutane has been linked to several serious side effects including liver disease, inflammatory bowel disease, depression, and more when the drug is taken over a long period of time. Several lawsuits have been filed and won due to these side effects. Another side effect linked to Accutane is that of eye infections.

Research published in Israel by an Atlanta LASIK surgeon points to a study involving 15,000 patients gathered over time. The study split the patients into three groups: those without acne who did not take Accutane; those who had acne and did not take Accutane; those with acne who took Accutane. It was found that the group who took Accutane had a much higher risk of developing conjunctivitis.

Although eye irritation is noted as a common severe side effect, the incidence of eye infections is not as well known. The reason conjunctivitis may be so high among those who take Accutane may be due to wearing contact lenses while on the drug. If Accutane is known for drying out the eyes and leading to irritation, it isn’t much of a leap to realize the drug is the reason some of these patients have a high incidence of eye infection.

According to the LASIK surgeon, people who take Accutane should not wear contact lenses. He says, “LASIK is dangerous while on this medication and not something I recommend.”

When you speak to your ophthalmologist or optometrist, you should disclose all medications you are taking. This helps them either recommend alternatives for your eyesight, or narrow down the reason you are getting eye infections. As the LASIK surgeon stated, you should not be taking Accutane if you are interested in this procedure. Chronic dry eyes is not a good indicator for a successful LASIK surgery.

If you have an eye infection and wear contact lenses, find an eye doctor in your area who can help to diagnose what the problem may be.