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Laser eye treatment, or LASIK, is an operation designed to correct vision problems. Receiving this type of surgery allows many people to live their lives without depending on eye contacts or glasses. Laser eye treatment alters the shape of the cornea, the transparent covering of the eye, with the assistance of a special laser.
Before undergoing a laser eye treatment, a potential patient must have a consultation with an eye doctor. The eye doctor will then determine if the patient is a candidate for this particular type of vision treatment. During the examination, the patient should inform the doctor about his or her prior medical history. This is also the appropriate time for the patient to tell the doctor about any medications he or she is currently taking.
If the eye doctor decides that the patient is a good candidate for laser eye treatment, he or she will discuss the risks and benefits of the surgery. The doctor may also discuss alternatives. The doctor will tell the patient what to expect before, during, and after a laser eye treatment is performed.
Laser eye surgery usually lasts about half an hour. First, the patient is led to a reclining chair in the examination room. Located inside the room is a laser system that consists of a machine attached to a microscope and a computer screen. To begin the procedure, numbing drops are put into the patient's eye. The area around the eye is cleaned, then a lid speculum is positioned to hold the patient's eyelids open.
After the lid speculum is arranged, the surgeon uses one of two methods to cut a flap in the cornea. He or she can use a blade called a mechanical microkeratome or a laser keratome. The mechanical microkeratome is used in conjunction with a ring placed on the eye.
The ring creates suction toward the cornea. Next, the microkeratome is used to cut a flap in the cornea. Patients usually experience some discomfort during this process.
Surgeons also have the option of using the laser keratome to create the flap in the cornea. A plastic plate flattens the cornea. As with the microkeratome instrument, the patient will feel some discomfort.
Next, the laser is directed toward the cornea, creating tiny gas and water bubbles. The bubbles grow larger and connect so the tissue beneath the cornea is separated. As a result, a flap is created. Finally, the plastic plate is removed from the eye.
At this point, the patient is asked to stare at a light in order to correctly position the eye for surgery. The eye doctor starts the laser, and it begins to eliminate corneal tissue, according to the measurements programmed into the computer by the eye surgeon. Once the tissue is vaporized, the flap is replaced.
After laser eye treatment is completed, the patient may notice that his or her eyes itch or burn. The patient's vision may be blurry as well. These unpleasant side effects will decrease after several days have passed.
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