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LASIK Refractive Surgery

By Huel T. Heath, O.D.

LASIK (Laser In Situ Keratomileusis) is a type of refractive surgery in which an excimer laser is used to reshape the corneal stromal bed beneath a corneal flap created by a microkeratome, a surgical device affixed to the eye by the use of a vacuum ring. This procedure was developed to correct myopia (nearsightedness) but may also be used to correct moderate amounts of astigmatism and hyperopia (farsightedness).

There are no shots or stitches placed in the eye. Anesthesia is gained by the used of topical drops. The surgeon then makes a small thin corneal flap with the use of the microkeratome. The flap is rolled back and the excimer laser, which is programmed with the patient's refractive correction, is then used to reshape the corneal stromal bed. After this is done, which only takes 30 to 45 seconds, the flap is rolled back in place and the other eye is done in the same manner. Total elapsed time is usually about 5 minutes per eye. The patient is then taken to a slit lamp biomicroscope and the doctor makes sure the flaps are in good position. When the surgeon is satisfied with the flap positions, the patient is allowed to go home and then seen again the next day. The following day or the second day after surgery, 95% of all patients are able to return to work. Unless complications occur, the surgery is virtually pain free.

Ideal refractive errors for this surgery are from -1.00 to -6.00 diopters, but we have done up to -14.00. Astigmatism up to -4.00 can be corrected and farsighted patients up to +6.00. Over this refractive error - CLE, or clear lens exchange, is a better option.

To find out if you could have LASIK, you need to have a complete comprehensive eye exam with pachymetry (corneal thickness measurements), dilated fundus exam (to check the retina and optic nerve), IOP (intraocular pressure), topography (to check for corneal disease) and infrared pupilometry (pupil size).

After and only after all these things are evaluated can you know for sure if you can have LASIK. Can complications occur? Absolutely. No surgery is without risk, but considering the percentage of people with complications and those without - the risk is small. Ninety percent of patients are 20/40 or better the day after surgery without glasses and 75% of these are 20/25 or better.

If you have any questions about the surgery, please contact:

Huel Heath, O.D. or David Murphy, M.D.
Arkansas Clear Sight Laser Center
10816 Executive Center Dr. Ste. 120
Little Rock, AR 72211
(501) 537-3937