Why is the VisuMax an important part of the LASIK procedure?
The first step with LASIK is to have a thin corneal flap made to reveal the tissue that will be reshaped to correct your nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism. There are two main methods to create a corneal flap; a microkeratome with a metal blade, or a femtosecond laser such as the VisuMax.
How does a laser create the corneal flap?
Flap creation with the VisuMax laser is a completely bladeless procedure. A very accurately focused laser beam is guided through to the cornea in a computerized treatment that is unique to each patient. The laser beam moves across and through the cornea, creating a layer of very tiny bubbles under its path. These bubbles quickly disappear, and the tissue above the bubbles becomes the corneal flap that can be easily lifted by your surgeon.
Which specific advantages does the blade free procedure done with the VisuMax laser provide?
Carl Zeiss, the manufacturer of the VisuMax laser has over 160 years of experience in the development of optics and Zeiss high performance optics are key to providing an optimum corneal flap.
A significant feature of the VisuMax is that it uses a curved contact interface that attaches to the cornea during the treatment. The cornea is only slightly flattened, which prevents
unnecessarily high intraocular pressure and stress to your eyes. This provides maximum comfort and allows you to see throughout the entire procedure, unlike with microkeratomes or other femtosecond lasers, where your vision is “blacked out” for awhile and patients have reported feeling uncomfortable pressure.
Due to the Zeiss high performance optics, the laser beam is guided very precisely to the desired depth, resulting in most accurate flap thickness. In addition, the laser beam is directed in a very focused manner which allows the doctor to apply only minimum laser energy to the eye during the treatment. As a result, the tissue outside the defined area of the cut remains untouched.
Is the blade free procedure painful?
Due to the specific advantages of the VisuMax, the procedure is very gentle and patients often describe the VisuMax procedure like the insertion of a soft contact lens.
Your doctor uses an eye drop to numb the eye prior to the procedure and most patients describe the VisuMax procedure, along with LASIK, as painless.
How long does the No Blade procedure take?
The creation of the corneal flap with the VisuMax takes about 20 to 30 seconds, while the complete LASIK procedure may take about 15 minutes.
Does every patient benefit from the advantages of the Blade Free procedure?
In general, patients who qualify for LASIK are also a candidate for the VisuMax and thus will benefit from its accuracy and gentleness. In fact, since the VisuMax is able to create very thin corneal flaps, some patients who were previously not a candidate for LASIK, due to thin corneas, are now benefiting from the procedure thanks to the VisuMax. Your doctor will make the final determination.
Am I a good candidate for LASIK?
To have LASIK, you must:
- Be 18 years of age or older.
- Have healthy eyes free from retinal problems, corneal scars, and any eye disease.
- Have nearsightedness within the range of treatment. The range is up to -12.0 D of sphere with up to -6.0 of astigmatism.
- Have proof your vision has not changed more than one half diopters for at least one year before your pre-surgery exam.
- Be fully informed about the risks and benefits of LASIK as compared to other treatments for nearsightedness.
- Be able to life flat without difficulty.
- Be able to keep your eye on the blinking fixation light during the entire LASIK process.
- Be willing to sign an informed consent form provided by your doctor.
- Be able to tolerate eye drops to numb your eye.
If you think you want LASIK, you will need an exam to make sure your eyes are healthy and suitable for LASIK. This would include a medical exam and eye history. Both eyes will be checked.
NOTE: If you wear contact lenses, the doctor may ask you to stop wearing them before your exam to stabilize the eye and allow for accurate measurement.
Who should not have LASIK?
For some individuals, the risk is greater than the benefit. Below is a list of instances when you should not have LASIK. Please note that this is not a complete list; your doctor can provide a final determination of whether you are a candidate.
- You have a disease that makes your body less able to heal, such as collagen vascular (e.g., rheumatoid arthritis), autoimmune (e.g., lupus), or immunodeficiency (e.g., AIDS).
- You are pregnant or nursing, which can cause short-term and unpredictable changes to the cornea. If this is the case, LASIK might change the shape of your cornea in a way that would harm your vision.
- You show signs of a condition that causes a thinning of your cornea, such as keratoconus, which can lead to serious problems during and after LASIK and lead to poor vision. It may necessitate additional surgery.
- You are taking medicines that have side effects on your eyes. Such medicines include: Accutane ® to treat acne, and Cordarone ® to normalize heart rhythm. These may affect the accuracy of LASIK or the way the cornea heals and yield poor vision after LASIK.
What should I discuss with the doctor before LASIK surgery?
You may want to ask the doctor the following questions to help you decide if LASIK with the MEL 80 is right for you.
- What are the other options for correcting my nearsightedness?
- What are the benefits of LASIK for my level of nearsightedness?
- Will I have to limit my activities after LASIK? If yes, for how long?
- What type of vision can I expect in the first few months after LASIK?
- Could my vision worsen after LASIK? Could my need for glasses increase over time?
- Will I be able to wear contact lenses if I still need them after LASIK?
- How is LASIK likely to affect my need to use glasses or contact lenses as I get older?
- Will my cornea heal differently if I injured it after LASIK?
- Should I have LASIK on my other eye?
- How long will I have to wait before I can have LASIK surgery on my other eye?
- What vision problems will I have if I have LASIK in only one eye?
Talk to your doctor if you take any medications or if you have any allergies, as these may cause problems with healing. Also discuss whether you should eat or drink before surgery.
What about pupil size?
Vision performance after LASIK could worsen if your eye’s pupils are large.
Can LASIK be reversed?
No. LASIK is permanent. Once done, it cannot be reversed.
I use reading glasses. Will I still need them after LASIK?
LASIK does not end the need for reading glasses, even if you have never worn them.
Can I have LASIK when I am pregnant?
No. Pregnant and nursing women should wait to have LASIK. For these women, LASIK may over- or under-correct their vision, and they may experience regression (reduction or loss of the correction over time).
Can diabetics have LASIK?
Talk to your doctor. Generally, you should not have LASIK if you have a medical condition that impairs wound healing (including corneal scars, uveitis, dry eyes, and diabetes).
Are there risks?
LASIK is not risk-free.However, LASIK with the VisuMax and MEL 80 is about the safest procedure that you can have.
Is LASIK the same as RK?
No. LASIK is not a laser version of RK (radial keratotomy). LASIK and RK are completely different from each other.
What are some alternatives to LASIK?
Some alternatives are glasses, contact lenses, PRK (photorefractive keratotomy), and refractive intraocular lenses (IOLs).
Is LASIK covered by my health insurance?
Most health insurance policies do not cover LASIK for vision correction. Discuss the cost of surgery and follow-up care with your doctor.
Will I be able to drive?
You should not drive after surgery until your doctor gives you permission to do so. Therefore, you should arrange to have someone drive you home after the surgery.
What will happen on the day of surgery?
Numbing drops will be placed in the eye that will be treated and you will be escorted into the surgery room. There you will see a large machine with a computer screen, a chair for the surgeon and a patient bed. You will be asked to lie face up on the bed. More numbing drops may be placed in your eye. The eye not having surgery may be covered with a temporary shield.
The surgery takes 10 to 20 minutes, but the laser is often used less than 60 seconds of that time. The doctor will place a small spring-like device between your eyelids to hold them open.
When the surgery begins, the doctor will make a flap in your cornea. You will then be asked to look directly at a blinking light and will hear the sound the laser makes as it works.
WARNING: It is important to keep looking directly at the blinking light, even if it fades or dims. Your results depend on how well you keep focus on this blinking light throughout the treatment.
What if I look away during the laser treatment?
If your eye moves out of the treatment range, the MEL 80 will automatically stop the procedure until your eye is realigned.
What happens after the surgery?
After completing the surgical procedure, your doctor will put drops or ointment into the eye. Some doctors place a patch or shield over the eye for protection and comfort.
Is LASIK painful?
Numbing drops help you to not experience discomfort.
How will my eye feel after surgery?
When the numbing drops wear off, most people describe their eye as feeling “scratchy.” Your doctor may prescribe pain medicine to make you more comfortable. If your doctor has placed a patch or shield over your eye, do not remove it until instructed to do so. Your eye may be mildly sensitive to light and glare. Wear sunglasses to ease your discomfort. While the outer layer of your cornea is healing, you may also have the feeling that something is in your eye.
WARNING: Do not rub or touch your treated eye for the first seven days after surgery This can cause a shift in the position of the flap, which can lead to blurred vision, risk of infection, inflammation, edema, or epithelial in-growth.
What should I do to take care of my eye after surgery?
Your results depend on you following your doctor’s orders. Use as directed any drops and lubricants your doctor has prescribed. If you use topical steroids, your doctor will watch you for the side-effects of long-term use. One side effect may be increased eye pressure (ocular hypertension), which is linked to glaucoma and cataract formation (clouding of the lens inside of the eye), and also can cause a loss of vision.
WARNING: You should contact your doctor if you notice any pain or change or loss of vision in the eye. These may be signs of a serious medical condition.