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LASIK surgery is the most frequently performed refractive procedure for correcting nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. Its popularity increased over the late 1990’s, rapidly replacing Radial Keratotomy and excimer laser surface ablation procedures. The operation gained rapid acceptance by refractive surgeons and patients over other procedures because it provides rapid, stable, and virtually painless visual recovery. With LASIK, the patient experiences little discomfort and can normally return to regular activities the following day, enjoying new restored vision. Surface ablation procedures such as PRK and epi-LASIK require longer recovery and are more painful.


LasikIllustration 1: Keratotomy results in a closed, non-contaminated incision.

Lasik Illustration 2: Surgical incision exposure to surgical incision closure.

LASIK Advancements
Advances in technologies have contributed to making refractive procedures much safer and predictable. A decade ago, the keratotomy (Stage I) was considered to be a challenge for the LASIK surgeon. Today’s automated mechanical or laser keratomes—instruments used to create the corneal flap—allow the LASIK surgeon to substantially reduce flap-related complications. Similarly, the earlier first, second, and third-generation commercial excimer laser systems lacked the more advanced features found on today’s lasers. In general, today’s various keratomes and excimer lasers are statistically equal and have been proven capable of providing similar, reproducible results.

The Lasik Procedure: The Two Stages
STAGE I – Stage I of the LASIK procedure is the creation of the corneal flap (keratotomy). Two technologies are available for creating the flap, a thin circular section of the cornea (Illustration 1).  Improvements in the design and manufacture of the technologies utilized in performing the keratotomy have been responsible for making this aspect of the LASIK procedure much safer. The incidence of complications directly associated with the use of the keratome (blade or laser technology) is on the order of only 0.1 to 0.3%.

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