Laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis (LASIK) surgery is a type of laser eye surgery. During LASIK surgery, a surgeon uses a laser to change the shape of the cornea. A person can undergo LASIK surgery to treat nearsightedness.

Nearsightedness is another name for myopia. This is a type of refractive error that occurs when the shape of the eye prevents light from bending properly onto the retina in the back of the eye. When light cannot focus on the retina, it can cause objects in the distance to appear blurry.

If a person has myopia, they may be able to read a book clearly but may have trouble seeing well enough to drive a car safely. There are a number of possible treatments for myopia, including LASIK surgery.

Read on to learn more about LASIK surgery and if it can effectively treat nearsightedness.

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LASIK surgery is a procedure that uses a laser to change the shape of a person’s cornea. This helps make their vision clearer.

The procedure is an effective treatment for nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. The latter is when the eye has a shape more similar to a football shape, which can affect vision.

Health experts generally consider LASIK a safe and effective treatment for nearsightedness. Around 90% of suitable patients achieve excellent distance vision after LASIK surgery.

A 2017 study examined 68 eyes of 37 people who underwent conventional LASIK surgery for myopia treatment. The study concluded that 12 years after the procedure, 53% of the eyes were within 0.5 diopters (D) of the targeted correction. A diopter is the unit of measurement a doctor uses for an eye prescription. The study added that 75% of the eyes were within 1.0 D of the targeted correction.

After LASIK surgery, a person may follow up with their surgeon for an examination. About 10% of patients require additional minor LASIK adjustments, known as an enhancement procedure.

The enhancement procedure helps correct residual refractive error and usually takes place within 1 year of the initial procedure. Enhancement procedures are more common in people:

  • with high initial corrections
  • who are over 40 years old
  • who have astigmatism

LASIK surgery is usually a safe procedure. However, like any surgery, it can cause some possible side effects. Common side effects of the procedure may include:

These side effects will usually go away on their own within a few months. An eye doctor may give a person eye drops or another medication to help deal with these side effects.

Other possible risks of LASIK surgery include:

  • infection
  • problems with healing
  • vision loss, or seeing less clearly than before surgery

If a person experiences vision loss after LASIK surgery, they may require more surgery to fix it. In some rare cases, vision loss from the procedure may be permanent.

LASIK can improve myopia from -2.00 D to -20.00 D. However, healthcare professionals generally suggest it for people with low to moderate myopia ranging from -0.5 D to -9.00 D.

A suitable candidate for LASIK surgery must meet certain requirements. These include:

  • being 18 years old or over
  • having a prescription that has not changed much in the last 12 months
  • having a refractive error that LASIK can treat
  • having corneas that are thick enough and healthy
  • having good overall eye health
  • having realistic expectations about what LASIK surgery can achieve

In some cases, a certain medical condition may make a person unsuitable for LASIK surgery. These conditions include:

  • an unstable (changing) refractive error
  • extreme levels of:
    • myopia
    • hyperopia
    • astigmatism
  • severe dry eye
  • corneas that are too thin
  • corneal scars or disease
  • keratoconus, which involves a cone-shaped cornea
  • advanced glaucoma
  • a cataract that affects their vision
  • a history of certain eye infections
  • unmanaged or uncontrolled diabetes

The below describes the typical procedure for LASIK surgery:

  1. The surgeon will use a scanner to make an image of the person’s cornea. They will use this image to guide the laser during the procedure.
  2. The surgeon will place drops in the person’s eye to numb it. They may also use medication to relax the person before the surgery begins.
  3. Before the procedure, the surgeon will use an instrument to hold the person’s eyes open.
  4. During the surgery, the surgeon will cut a small flap in the person’s cornea and then fold this flap back.
  5. The surgeon then shines the laser into the person’s eye through the hole they have made.
  6. This laser then changes the cornea until it is the correct shape.
  7. Once the surgeon has finished using the laser, they will fold the cornea back in place.

There are a number of other possible treatment options for nearsightedness. These can include:

  • Glasses: Eyeglasses are a simple and safe way to correct nearsightedness. An eye doctor will prescribe the right eyeglass lenses to give the person the clearest possible vision.
  • Contact lenses: Contact lenses sit on the surface of the eyes and correct refractive errors. An eye doctor will fit a person with the right lenses to help correct their nearsightedness. They can also show them how to clean and wear them safely.
  • Corneal refractive therapy (CRT): CRT, or orthokeratology contact lenses, temporarily change the shape of a person’s cornea to correct refractive errors. The individual wears these contact lenses overnight and takes them out in the morning. They allow the person to see clearly during the day without wearing glasses or contact lenses.
  • Photorefractive keratectomy (PRK): PRK is a procedure that uses lasers to reshape a person’s cornea without creating a flap in the cornea.
  • Phakic lenses: Phakic lenses are plastic or silicone lenses that a surgeon permanently implants into a person’s eye. These lenses can correct nearsightedness and reduce a person’s need for glasses or contact lenses.

Nearsightedness is another name for myopia. If a person has nearsightedness, it will cause objects in the distance to appear blurry.

LASIK surgery is a type of laser eye surgery. A surgeon can perform LASIK surgery to correct nearsightedness. During the procedure, a surgeon uses a laser to correct the shape of a person’s cornea. LASIK surgery is an effective and safe treatment for nearsightedness.