The world was introduced to LASIK vision surgery in 1990, when Ioannis G. Pallikaris performed the very first procedure, one year after the patent for the process was secured by Gholam A. Peyman, M.D. The process involves a technique whereby the corneal curvature of the eye is modified, and its name is derived from a description of that process: laser-assisted in-situ keratomileusis.
To date, it is the most popular elective surgery in the world, having been performed on more than 28 million patients, and it owes its popularity to several powerful advantages over other corrective methods. Roughly 96 percent of all LASIK surgeries are successful, and the patient experiences significantly improved vision. Sometimes eyeglasses and contacts are completely eliminated, and if not, dependence on them is greatly reduced. The surgery itself imparts little or no pain to the patient since numbing eye drops are used. There is no post-operation embarrassment, since bandages and stitches are not needed, and the enhanced vision is generally apparent within a day or two.
On the downside, the changes made to the shape of the cornea are permanent, so if any problems should arise it would be difficult to correct them. Sometimes the benefits gained by the procedure do lessen over time, in which case a follow-up surgery would become necessary to regain them. It should also be kept in mind that laser vision surgery is generally not covered under most insurance plans, so the procedure cost is basically out-of-pocket.
Before the procedure would be performed on any patient, a preparatory interview must be arranged with the chosen eye care professional. At this session, the doctor will carefully examine the eyes, take precise measurements of the cornea, test for glaucoma, dry-eye, and astigmatism, and ensure that the eyes are in overall good health. Assuming the patient’s eyes are healthy enough for the procedure, the doctor will discuss every aspect of the surgery with the prospective patient, including options, benefits, risks, and possible complications.
If the patient is still a good candidate for LASIK, the procedure is done on an out-patient basis. Each eye is treated with an anesthetic that numbs the whole surface of the eye, and the actual laser surgery is usually accomplished in ten to fifteen minutes. Afterward, there may be a mild burning sensation or somewhat blurry vision, but this usually clears up within hours. It is advisable to avoid extreme exertion such as sports, and activities such as driving a car for a day or two, but very soon after laser vision surgery most patients are pleased to have a better view of the world with their improved vision.