What Happens During a LASIK Procedure?
More and more people are asking if LASIK surgery is the right choice to fix their vision problems. While not everyone will be a good candidate for the procedure, many will qualify and many more have benefitted from LASIK. With that in mind, we’re continuing our three-part series on what you can experience on your LASIK journey from start to finish.
In this part of the series, we’ll look at:
- Duration of the procedure
- Prepping for the procedure
- Creating the corneal flap
- Training your eye
- The LASIK laser
We recently talked about what you can expect before your LASIK procedure. Check it out to get a leg up on what to expect as you begin your LASIK journey.
Duration of the Procedure
One of the major benefits of LASIK surgery is that the procedure is usually pretty short, with most taking less than 30 minutes. This is also a major benefit to whoever you recruit to take you to your appointment as well as back home since it won’t be that time-consuming. With that said, you may still want to buy them coffee or fill their gas tank as a “thank you.”
Prepping for the Procedure
Once you’re in the exam room, your surgeon will have you sit in a reclining chair and lie you down flat on your back. You’ll also notice a large machine in the room with a computer screen and microscope. This is the LASIK machine that your surgeon will use to perform the procedure.
Once positioned in the chair, someone from your surgical team will use special eye drops to numb your eye. They will also clean the area surrounding your eye to help ensure that nothing gets in the way of the machine used to perform the surgery. Lastly, a lid speculum will be placed over your eye to hold it open throughout the procedure.
Creating the Corneal Flap
There are two types of surgical devices that can be used to make the flap in the cornea that’s necessary to perform LASIK—mechanical and laser. Both are used to achieve the same result, but the type of device your surgeon uses will affect how the procedure is performed.
The mechanical microkeratome uses a blade to cut the flap of the cornea and accomplish the LASIK procedure. In this case, high pressure is applied to your eye using a suction ring. During this process, your vision will become dim as you experience pressure from the suction. It’s not uncommon to experience some slight discomfort during this part of the procedure.
A blade (the microkeratome) is then attached to the suction ring and used to cut a flap in your cornea. Once this is done, the blade and suction ring will be removed. Microkeratome blades are only used once then thrown away. This greatly reduces the chances of contamination as well as cleanup for the surgical team.
The process of using a laser keratome is a bit different from a mechanical microkeratome but the goal is the same—creating a flap in the cornea.
Instead of cutting a flap, this device makes one by creating pressure inside the corneal tissue. To start, a clear plastic plate is used to flatten the cornea. Like the microkeratome, you may feel some discomfort during this part of the LASIK surgical procedure. The energy from the laser causes tiny bubbles to form and expand which results in the creation of the flap.
Once the flap has been made, your surgeon will dry the exposed tissue by lifting the flap and holding it open. You should still be able to see during this process. However, expect to experience blurred vision that fluctuates for the rest of the surgery.
Training Your Eye
Once the flap has been made, your surgical team will position a light over your eye for you to look into. This is not the LASIK laser. It’s actually a tool to help keep your eye trained on one spot throughout the procedure. This helps to prevent any sudden moves of your eye that could lead to an accident.
The LASIK Laser
Once your eye is safely and correctly positioned, your doctor will start the LASIK laser. Don’t worry if you start noticing new smells and sounds since this is all to be expected during this part of the surgery. You may notice a ticking sound which is just the sound of the laser pulsing. Any odd smells are the result of the corneal tissue being removed by the laser.
The laser is controlled by the computer attached to the machine. The strength of the laser will be preset based on the consultation you had previously with your doctor. This ensures that the correct amount of corneal tissue is removed and the cornea is reshaped properly. Once the laser has completed its task, the corneal flap will be replaced.
Once the flap has been moved back, your doctor will put a shield over the affected eye as a protective barrier. The cornea flap will be left to heal naturally rather than with stitches, so the shield is critical for your recovery and safety. It also helps prevent any extra pressure or damage to your eye until it’s fully healed.
Baptist Eye Surgeons is an ophthalmological practice in Knoxville, TN, and Morristown, TN. Visit our website to meet our doctors and learn more about our specialties, or give us a call at 865-579-3920 for more information or to schedule an appointment.