Lasik treatment (or laser in-situ keratomileusis) offers a number of benefits because it is performed under a protective layer of corneal tissue. As a result, there is:
- Less surface area to heal
- Less risk of scarring
- Less risk of corneal haze
- Less postoperative discomfort
- Less postoperative need for medication
Vision also returns more rapidly, often within a day or so.
Lasik operations can be used to treat a wide range of vision errors. Although postoperative results may vary, most patients are able to pass a drivers license test without their glasses or contact lenses afterwards. This procedure is very successful and has been described as “magic” by both patients and surgeons.
Who is a good candidate for LASIK eye surgery in Cape Town?
- People who are nearsighted, farsighted or astigmatic.
- People of 18 years or older.
- People whose prescription has been stable (without significant changes) for at least 12 months.
- People who have had previous RK (Radial Keratotomy) or cataract surgery, and who have not attained the desired results.
Cataracts or other visual problems may be a contra-indication for Lasik treatment and may influence the willingness of the physician to perform a Lasik operation. Certain medical conditions, such as AIDS, uncontrolled diabetes and immune disorders are also contra-indications for Lasik surgery. Keratoconus and Keratoglobus are further conditions that exclude the option of Lasik.
We offer a free 30-minute suitability evaluation for people who are interested in refractive surgery, including LASIK and all-laser iLASIK (femto-Lasik), and would like to find out whether they are a suitable candidate. Appointments can be made by phoning 021 9100 300.
The decision to have Lasik surgery is an important one that ultimately only you can make for yourself. It is important that you have realistic expectations and that your decision is based on facts, not hopes or misconceptions. The goal of Lasik treatment is to reduce your dependence on corrective lenses. Lasik operations do not always result in 20/20 vision, and results cannot be guaranteed.
Furthermore, it cannot correct a condition known as presbyopia, or aging of the eye. Presbyopia is a normal age-related change in the eye that starts around the age of 45, and affects everyone. It causes difficulty when focusing close-up and requires reading glasses. Monovision, where the dominant eye is fully corrected for distance vision and the non-dominant eye is ‘under-corrected’ for near vision, is an option, which will reduce your dependence on reading glasses. People who are normal sighted in the distance but are presbyopic, may wish to have one eye done to make it moderately nearsighted so they are able to read with that eye. Presby-Lasik is also available to treat presbyopia.
The Preliminary Test
Firstly, a thorough eye examination and some specialised tests will have to be performed to determine whether you are a suitable candidate for Lasik surgery. You may not wear any soft contact lenses for at least seven days prior to these tests. If you wear RGP or hard contact lenses, these may not be worn for three weeks prior to these tests. Wearing contact lenses causes swelling of the cornea, which will result in inaccurate measurements and test results.
Contact lenses should also be removed for the same period of time before surgery. This first consultation takes about 90 minutes. Your pupils will be dilated, causing blurry vision for about eight hours, so you should bring someone along that can drive you home afterwards.
On the day of your LASIK surgery
Lasik surgery is performed under topical anaesthetic. There are no injections, and only eye drops are used to numb your eyes completely. You will feel no pain during the procedure and both eyes can undergo treatment on the same day.
Next, a protective flap is created in the superficial cornea. The flap is then lifted and you will be asked to look directly at a flashing target light while the laser treatment is completed. The laser part of the procedures takes between five and sixty seconds. You will feel no pain whatsoever and will only hear the snapping sound of the laser.
After the laser portion of the operation has been completed, the flap is placed back into position where it bonds securely without the need for stitches. The laser will then be reset for your other eye. The total time spent in theatre is ± 30 minutes. You will spend some time in the recovery room after which you may go home.
After the procedure
We recommend three days recuperation after the procedure.
You will be given eye drops to use after surgery to prevent infection and to reduce swelling of the cornea. Instructions on how to use these drops will be given on the day of surgery. Most people do not experience any post-operative pain other than slight discomfort.
The most important thing is not to rub, touch, bump or to have any pressure on the eye after surgery to avoid moving the corneal flap.
What to expect after Lasik surgery
- Your vision will be a bit blurry for the first few days and you may experience some difficulty reading.
- You may feel that your eyes get tired more quickly during the first week or two, especially after prolonged close-up work like reading or computer work.
- You will experience some light sensitivity and your eyes may tear more than normal.
- You may experience some problems with night glare and halo’s around lights.
- Your eyes may feel a bit scratchy and dry during the first few days.
- Your vision may fluctuate during the first few weeks.
- Visual recovery is rapid and relatively painless.
All of the above mentioned symptoms are normal and any discomfort you have will become less each day as your eyes heal.
As with all surgical procedures there is always a possibility of infection, although the chances are very slim. If you should get an infection in the eye, it will be treated with additional eye drops.
With Lasik surgery, as with all other refractive surgery procedures, there is a possibility that the desired refractive outcome is not attained, leaving you with the need for corrective lenses. Results therefore cannot be guaranteed.