A large section of the global population needs some sort of vision correction as they suffer from poor eyesight, mostly myopia. Wearing glasses or contact lenses are the most common remedies for this handicap that affects old & young alike.
But both glasses and lenses have their share of drawbacks. You need to maintain them carefully to prevent them from breaking or other forms of damage. And if any damage occurs, the situation becomes irritating and even dangerous!
Also, many young people don’t want to wear glasses as it often doesn’t fit in with the style statement they want to make or the trendy clothes that they love to sport.
So, an alternative to not-so-trendy glasses and not-easy-to-maintain lenses would be the best option, for both young and old. But someone born with myopia or someone who has it from a very early age feels helpless in such a situation. Do they have a viable alternative?
Yes, they do. And that alternative is – LASIK eye surgery. LASIK stands for Laser In-situ Keratomileusis.
What is the Need for LASIK?
LASIK eye surgery is corrective surgery for people with vision deficiencies (refractive errors) of different types:
Myopia (nearsightedness) – You can clearly see things that are near to you, but the distant objects appear blurred
Hyperopia (farsightedness) – The distant objects appear clear, but the objects nearby appear hazy to you
Astigmatism – Due to an improper curvature of the eye, everything appears blurred to you
LASIK eye surgery is among the several vision correction surgeries for the above deficiencies – and among the most popular, too. What it does is – it reshapes the cornea that is the frontal portion of the eye, so that the light can focus correctly on the retina that is located in the rear part of the eye.
But of course, there are specific preparations that you need to make before the surgery.
Before LASIK Surgery
You will need to have a detailed discussion with an eye surgeon who will guide you regarding the whole process of the operation, and the steps you would need to take after that.
The surgeon will obtain your and your family’s medical history. You would also need to go through a detailed eye checkup. The checkup will focus on areas like cornea mapping to check for its thickness, pupil dilation, eye pressure, etc.
There are certain necessary precautions before LASIK eye surgery. Like, you shouldn’t go for the surgery if you meet one/more of the following criteria:
● You are pregnant or in a state of nursing
● You are not yet 18 years of age
● You are suffering from eye conditions like glaucoma or dry eye syndrome
● You are under several types of ongoing medication
● You are suffering from diabetes, arthritis or similar such ailments
● Your cornea membrane is thin
● You have any other physical condition that the doctor feels can make you unsuitable for LASIK eye surgery
If you don’t meet any of the above, then you are through with the first step. You would need to consult the doctor regarding the date & time of the operation and the hospital where it will happen. You would need to book the slot accordingly. The doctor will now advise you on the dos and don’ts till the day of the operation. The key points in this regard are:
● Stop wearing your contact lenses from the time the doctor tells you to. In most cases, he/she will advise you to stop wearing them from one week prior to the surgery (for soft lenses) and up to one month (for hard contacts). It might be more in certain cases. Doctors suggest that to make your corneas more stable to enable good surgery.
The idea is to give some rest to your eyes, so it would be a good idea to switch to eyeglasses during this phase.
● Increase your water intake. It’s very important to keep yourself well-hydrated till the time of the operation unless the doctor has advised otherwise.
A temporary dry eye is a side-effect of LASIK eye surgery that many people face. So, drink more water to ensure lubrication for your eyes. It will help in the postoperative stage as well. If you want to keep a tab on how much water you are drinking every day, then you can take the help of apps to do so.
● Don’t drive yourself to the hospital for the operation. Though the doctors don’t administer anesthesia or any other sedative to you, they will apply an eye drop that will numb your eyes during the operation. So, you won’t have permission to drive back home after the operation. Get a driver for yourself that day or book a car/cab on rent. In all probability, you can start driving from the next day – but only after your doctor has given the final nod.
Please pay due importance to the dos and don’ts before the operation. You have put in a fair amount of planning for this, so don’t let unpreparedness come in the way of a successful operation.
Let’s now take a look at the procedures that need adherence to on the day of the operation.
So now, the day of your LASIK eye surgery is here. You have followed all the instructions up to this day that your doctor told you to, and you are ready for the event. You need to keep a few more things in mind till you step into the operation theatre, like:
● Avoid wearing any kind of heavy makeup, lotions, or even perfumes. Take a bath before you leave for the hospital, and clean your face of any kind of dirt & grime. Also, stay clear of hair accessories & don’t forget to clean your eyes well.
● If you are under any kind of regular medication, then take it as per schedule if your doctor has advised you accordingly. Don’t stop them on your own unless your doctor has told you to do so.
● Many people develop last-minute anxiety attacks at the hospital itself. If you are also feeling something similar, do mention it without any delay to the doctor and the medical staff there at the hospital. They will take steps to put you at ease by administering anti-anxiety medicines or by putting you through some meditative activity.
● The hospital will provide you with a consent form before the operation. Do go through the form very carefully before you sign on it. The idea is that you must make an informed decision. If you are not clear about one/more term/s and condition/s, then please do obtain proper clarification before you give your consent.
● If you experience any kind of physical ailment on the day of the surgery, consult your doctor immediately & postpone the operation if he/she suggests so. You need to be fit & fine to proceed with the operation.
If you don’t have anything to worry about regarding your health and/or the paperwork, then you are good to go for the operation.
What Happens During LASIK Surgery?
For LASIK eye surgery, you don’t need an overnight stay at the hospital. The operation and your discharge happen on the same day, i.e. it’s an outpatient process.
The operation doesn’t take much time under normal circumstances. Doctors finish it within 30-40 minutes in most cases.
You don’t need to go through full-body anesthesia for this surgery. Doctors administer drops that numb your eyes, thus acting as a kind of local anesthesia. After this, the doctor will use a device to keep your eyelids open during the process of the surgery. You need to lie down during this entire process.
Doctors perform the operation with a laser or microkeratome – a type of surgical blade. With this, they will cut away a small flap from the frontal portion of the eye. They then fold back this flap. This enables them to gain access to the portion of the cornea that they need to reshape.
Doctors might perform an all-laser LASIK. In such a case, they will use two lasers. To create the corneal flap, they will use a femtosecond laser, and to reshape the corneal tissue, they will use an excimer laser. But the vision correction needs differ from patient to patient. So, the doctors program the excimer laser in a way that it delivers an according treatment.
The doctors will then place the laser over your eye. Computers control the entire treatment procedure. Every pulse of the laser beam removes a small portion of the corneal tissue. Once the doctors have reshaped the cornea as per the requirement, they will put the flap back in its original place.
Doctors will ask you to focus your gaze on a certain point in the instrument. They do this to be able to observe your eye through a special microscope during the operation activity as your eyes remain fixed.
Once the doctors have completed the process with one eye, they will repeat it for the other one.
What to do After LASIK Surgery?
● Post the surgery you might feel burning or itching sensation in your eyes. They might also water. Blurred vision is another possible side-effect. However, the good thing is that the healing procedure is fast & starts immediately after the operation.
● Doctors will administer eye drops & offer you pain-relieving medicines after the surgery. They might also suggest you wear a shield over your eyes for a while. Your eyes will be particularly sensitive to UV rays at this point, so be sure to wear sunglasses when you go out, especially for the first few days after the surgery.
● Keeping your eyes moist is important to prevent dry eye syndrome. Doctors will prescribe suitable eye drops that you will need to use for a period after the operation.
However, in this context, please remember that you can’t let water get into your eyes till the time the doctor allows you to do so. Water might disturb the corneal flap. So, the prescribed eye drops are the only way to moisten your eyes. The doctor might allow artificial tears that are free of preservatives. The artificial tears will also be useful when your eyes itch, as manual itching is avoidable.
● Please avoid getting into swimming pools or hot tubs for at least two weeks after the surgery. Pool water contains chlorine and it can be very damaging for your eyes. Wait for the doctor’s go-ahead before indulging in that favorite swimming activity.
● Please stay away from heavy exercises (including weights) and sports with high physical contact (like football, boxing, martial arts, etc.) for two-three weeks after the operation. Heavy exercising will cause undue strain to your eyes. It’s advisable to avoid high-contact sports for not less than a month after the operation. This also holds true of activities like hiking, trekking, etc.
● Please avoid the use of eye makeup for at least two weeks post-surgery. Please stick to the doctor’s advice on this. Once he/she allows you to use makeup again, it’s advisable to buy or use a fresh pack instead of an already opened one, as the latter might contain harmful bacteria that have accumulated all this while.
All these are some minor side effects of LASIK eye surgery. However, if you want them to remain minor, please follow your doctor’s advice at every step after the surgery. This will not only ensure a speedy recovery but will also eliminate the risks of future complications and possible resultant long-term damage to your eyes.
The Cost Factor
By now, you might be wondering as to what is the laser eye surgery cost in India. Various factors determine the cost, like technology, hospital size, location, aftercare facilities, etc. These factors will vary among providers, so there won’t be a uniform cost for the surgery.
Laser eye surgery cost in India varies between Rs 20,000 to Rs 1,20,000 depending on the above-mentioned parameters. While cost is definitely an important factor, please also take into account other critical parameters like the hospitals’ past records, feedback, etc. There are many reputed hospitals for LASIK surgery in Delhi and other locations in India, so please conduct thorough research before you decide to go for your LASIK eye surgery.