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LASIK, Flap and Zap, and the excimer laser

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Updated: 4/11/2007 5:48 pm
Laser assisted in keratomileusis (care-uh-toe-mih-LEW-sis), more commonly known as LASIK (LAY-sick), is the most popular laser eye surgery. This type of surgery became possible because of the development of the excimer (X-ih-mer) laser, a precision instrument capable of sculpting microscopic layers in the eye. In the LASIK procedure, a hinged flap of the corneal surface is peeled back to expose the underlying tissue. Then, layers are either added or removed, depending on the vision correction. Tissue is removed to correct nearsightedness, while tissue is added for farsightedness. The flap is then repositioned so that it naturally adheres to your eye. The doctor administers anesthetic, anti-inflammatory, and antibiotic eye drops to ease discomfort and protect against infection. Since the surface of the cornea is not scratched or cut, healing occurs much faster than other laser procedures. Once the procedure is complete, the doctor covers your eyes with transparent shields, and you’re ready to go. Many patients report improved vision immediately after the surgery, although the full effect doesn’t usually take place until a week has passed. It’s important to select a qualified and experienced surgeon for the LASIK procedure, since the initial corneal flap incision is made with a scalpel in traditional surgical fashion. The excimer laser is then programmed to sculpt the tissue beneath the flap. Due to the complex nature of this surgery, you’ll want to find a doctor who has performed many LASIK procedures in the past and has a high success rate.
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