Lasik (Laser Assisted In Situ Keratomileusis) is a laser surgical procedure designed to reduce or eliminate a patient’s need for glasses or contact lenses in order to have sharp visual acuity.
To understand Lasik we should first review how the eye functions. The eye is like a non-digital camera with a front piece (the cornea), a lens, and film in the back (the retina). The front of the eye, the cornea is also a lens, and together with the lens inside the eye focus an image of what we see on the retina which like film in a camera takes a picture and sends it to our brain. If the image on the retina is out of focus because of myopia, hyperopia, or astigmatism then a person needs glasses or contact lenses to see clearly.
Lasik reduces or eliminates the need for glasses by using cool concentrated laser light to change the shape of the cornea so that a sharp image of what we are looking at is focused on the retina. Lasik involves making a flap in the cornea with a mechanical blade or preferably with a special laser (Femto Laser). Then a different laser (Excimer Laser) is used to change the shape of the cornea. The flap is then repositioned and naturally seals into place within minutes.
Conventional Lasik involves making the corneal flap with a mechanical blade and only plugging a patient’s age and prescription into the computer of the Excimer Laser to determine the pattern of laser bursts to change the shape of the cornea. Although results are generally good, newer, more advanced techniques performed by Dr. Harris at TLC laser center offer even better results.
Bladeless Lasik or All Laser Lasik involves using a special Laser the Femto Laser to make the corneal flap instead of a mechanical blade. Laser made flaps are more accurate, more predictable, and are easier to reposition at the end of the procedure.
Custom Wavefront Lasik
Instead of just using the patient’s age and prescription as with Conventional Lasik, in Custom Wavefront Lasik the computer of the Excimer laser is also loaded with information using wavefront technology about the unique curves and characteristics of each eye .This ‘tailor made’ treatment results in crisper vision compared to Conventional Lasik. The vast majority of procedures offered by Dr. Harris at the TLC laser center are both Bladeless Lasik and Custom Wavefront Lasik.
Photorefractive Keratectomy or PRK is a laser correcting procedure using the same Excimer laser as with Lasik, except the treatment is in a more superficial layer of the cornea and no corneal flap is created. PRK is an excellent procedure for patient who are not candidates for Lasik because of thin corneas or other corneal conditions.
Clear Lens Exchange
Clear Lens Exchange is a procedure involving the removal of one’s natural lens and replacing it with an intra-ocular lens (IOL). This is a good procedure for patients whose prescription falls out of the range of Lasik.
Before Your Procedure
If you are interested in having Lasik, the first step is to schedule a free eye screening. At this screening, we will assess if you are myopic (nearsighted (, hyperopic, (farsighted), or have astigmatism and to what degree. We will ask about your medical history and if you are on any medications. We will find out if you glass or contact lens prescription has been stable. We will ask about any history of eye disease. We will evaluate the shape of your cornea with a laser scanner (corneal topography) and measure the thickness of your cornea.(pachymetry.) We will also examine the front of you eye with an instrument called a slit lamp. If based on this evaluation you are determined to be a candidate for Lasik, then we will schedule your procedure.
Prior to your Lasik procedure, you will be scheduled for a comprehensive, dilated exam. Contact lens wearers are advised to be out of contact lenses for 2-4 weeks prior to their Lasik procedure and dilated exam.
The Day of Your Procedure
The day of your procedure, you will meet Dr. Harris at the TLC Laser Eye Center in Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania. After reviewing consent forms and arranging for payment, additional diagnostic tests are performed.
You will be taken to the Laser suite where:
- You lie on a bed that pivots between two lasers
- Anesthetic eye drops are placed in the eyes
- Harris creates corneal flap usually using a laser called a Femto-Laser. (Bladeless Lasik) During the creation of the flap your vision will temporarily dim.
- The creation of the corneal flap allows for access to the inner layers of the cornea. Using a second laser called an Excimer Laser, Dr Harris changes the shape of the inner cornea with computer controlled pulses of cool laser light. The laser has a computer guided eye tracking device to account for eye movements and ensure the most precise correction possible.
- Finally, Dr Harris carefully repositions and realigns the flap. Post procedure eye drops are administered and the patient is given protective eye glasses to go home with.
After Your Procedure
After your procedure you will need to have someone with you to drive you home and you may have “underwater vision” because of swelling of the flaps. Most patients feel moderate discomfort or irritation for several hours, but are comfortable after a nap and rest. Patients are on medicated eye drops for several days after the procedure. After a good night’s sleep, most patients note a dramatic improvement in their vison as most of the swelling of the flaps resolves. Dr. Harris will see you the next day to test your vision and make sure your eyes are healing properly.