Nearly one million individuals per year choose to minimize their dependence on glasses or contact lenses by having refractive surgery. Surgeons at Consulting Ophthalmologists in Farmington and Glastonbury, Connecticut perform laser surgery called LASEK. During LASEK the cornea is recontoured at the corneal surface below the most superficial layer called the corneal epithelium. During surgery the epithelial tissue is lifted and moved to the side so the laser can be applied to the stromal tissue below, then the epithelial tissue is replaced. This layer is held in place by a soft bandage contact lens for the first 5 to 6 days after surgery, while the rest of the epithelium heals in around it. The corneal epithelium is regenerative tissue and will eventually replace itself. LASEK is different from LASIK during which a flap is cut across the cornea and the laser is performed under the cut flap. There may be more discomfort with LASEK and the vision recovery is slightly slower, but by not cutting the cornea any potential problems that can develop from a LASIK flap are eliminated.
Before considering surgery it is crucial to determine if you are a good candidate for refractive surgery. Refractive Surgery exams are offered during which you are seen by your surgeon to determine if you are a good candidate. A second preoperative exam is done by the surgeon within a few weeks of surgery. It is important to stay out of contact lenses usually for 1 to 2 weeks before your pre-op exam and the surgery itself. This time may vary so check with your surgeon to see how long you need to be out of contact lenses.
Most patients chose to have both eyes operated on the same day, but some will wait 1 to 2 weeks between eyes. You are awake, comfortable, and laying on your back during the surgery. Some individuals will take a mild oral sedative and the eye requires only drops to be anesthetized. The lights from the laser microscope are bright but the surgery is painless and takes 10 to 15 minutes per eye. The eyelid is held open by a lid holder and although it is important to look at a fixation light the laser will track any small movements the eye makes. It is best to go home and take a nap for 2 or 3 hours after surgery and then begin taking your eye drops as prescribed. You will be examined by your surgeon the day after surgery. It is normal for the eye to feel irritated, scratchy, and teary for the first 3 to 4 days, and prescribed pain medication will help if the eye does hurt. The soft bandage contact lens will be removed 5 to 6 days after surgery and the vision can fluctuate during this first week. Most people return to work after the bandage contact lens has been removed.
To find out if you are a candidate for this procedure, schedule a complimentary refractive surgery evaluation by calling Meg Casasanta, Surgical Counselor at 860-674-7610 or you may email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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