LASIK surgery offers life-changing vision correction, eliminating the need for glasses and contacts. Washington University LASIK and Refractive Surgery Center is committed to providing top of the line vision correction services. We offer the best patient care and outcomes available using cutting edge laser technology.
Washington University Ophthalmology’s Professor Stephen Wexler, MD is one of the most respected LASIK surgeons in the Midwest. Dr. Wexler is board certified, with 30+ years’ experience, and has performed 70,000+ procedures. Dr. Wexler is the director of our new LASIK and Refractive Surgery Center.
As world leaders in patient care, teaching and research, we strive to touch lives and preserve and restore vision through innovation and compassionate service.
Professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences John F. Hardesty, MD Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences Washington University School of Medicine
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Medical Director Washington University LASIK & Refractive Surgery Center
LASIK is a laser eye surgery that corrects vision
LASIK is a type of refractive surgery. This kind of surgery uses a laser to treat vision problems caused by refractive errors. You have a refractive error when your eye does not refract (bend) light properly.
For you to see clearly, light rays must travel through your cornea and lens. The cornea and lens refract the light so it lands on the retina. The retina turns light into signals that travel to your brain and become images. With refractive errors, the shape of your cornea or lens keeps light from bending properly. When light is not focused on the retina as it should be, your vision is blurry.
With LASIK, your ophthalmologist uses a laser to change the shape of your cornea. This laser eye surgery improves the way light rays are focused on the retina. LASIK is used to treat myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness) and astigmatism.
The goal of LASIK is to correct your refractive error to improve your vision. LASIK eye surgery may reduce your need for eyeglasses or contact lenses. In some cases, it may even allow you to do without them completely.
To have LASIK surgery, you need to meet certain requirements. Here are some of them:
- You should be 18 years or older (ideally, over 21 years old, when vision is more likely to have stopped changing).
- Your eye prescription should not have changed much in the last year.
- Your refractive error must be one that can be treated with LASIK.
- Your corneas need to be thick enough and healthy, and your overall eye health must be generally good.
- You need to have realistic expectations about what LASIK can and cannot do for you.
Some people are not candidates for LASIK. They include people with:
- an unstable (changing) refractive error
- extreme levels of myopia, hyperopia or astigmatism
- severe dry eye
- corneas that are too thin
- cornea abrasions or disease
- keratoconus (cone-shaped cornea)
- advanced glaucoma
- a cataract affecting vision
- a history of having certain eye infections
- diabetes that is not controlled well
- pregnant or nursing women
Your ophthalmologist can talk with you about other conditions that may keep you from having LASIK.
To determine whether you are a candidate for LASIK, your ophthalmologist will examine your eyes. Here is what will be done:
- The overall health of your eyes will be checked.
- Measurements of your cornea will be taken.
- Your pupil size will be checked.
- Your refractive error will be measured.
In some cases, your ophthalmologist will measure the quality and the amount of tears that your eyes make. This is to check if you have dry eye, and if so, how severe it is.
What to Expect
How to prepare for your procedure
You and your ophthalmologist will discuss your vision needs based on your lifestyle. For example, if you play sports, you may be seeking clear distance vision from surgery.
Also, you and your ophthalmologist should discuss your expectations for LASIK. People who have LASIK to achieve perfect vision without glasses or contacts run the risk of being disappointed. This laser eye surgery allows people to do most of their everyday tasks without corrective lenses. However, you might need to wear glasses for certain activities, such as reading or driving at night.
Your ophthalmologist will thoroughly examine your eyes and make sure you are a candidate for LASIK. Here is what he or she will do:
- Test your vision. This is to make sure that your vision has not changed. It also shows how high your refractive error is and whether LASIK can be used to correct your vision.
- Check for other eye problems. Your ophthalmologist will make sure that you do not have eye problems. This is because other problems could affect your surgery, or LASIK could make those other problems worse. For example, if you have dry eyes, they may be worse after LASIK.
- Measure and map the surface of your cornea. Your ophthalmologist will check the thickness of your cornea and make precise measurements of the cornea’s surface. Your eye surgeon uses these measurements to program the computer-based laser used during surgery.
- Measure your pupil size. He or she will also measure the size of your pupil. If your pupil is very large, you could see halos (rings of light) at night after LASIK.
This laser eye surgery is done in an outpatient surgery center or your ophthalmologist’s office. Your eye surgeon uses a laser to reshape your cornea. Here is what to expect:
- Your eye will be numbed with eye drops.
- Your eye surgeon will place an eyelid holder on your eye to keep you from blinking. He or she will also place a suction ring on your eye to keep it from moving. You will feel pressure like a finger pressing firmly on your eyelid. At this point, your vision will go dim or black.
- Using either a device called a microkeratome or a laser, your ophthalmologist makes a paper-thin flap in the cornea tissue. Then he or she lifts and folds the flap back.
- You will be asked to stare at a target light so that your eyes will not move. The ophthalmologist then reshapes your cornea using a laser. The laser is a special instrument that has been programmed with measurements for your eye.
- While your ophthalmologist is using the laser, you will hear a clicking sound. After reshaping the cornea, your eye surgeon folds the flap back down into position and smoothes the edges. The flap attaches on its own in 2–3 minutes, where it will heal in place.
- The ophthalmologist may place a see-through shield over your eye or ask you to wear a shield while sleeping for a few days. This is to help protect your eye while it heals.
- You should plan to go home and take a nap or just relax after the surgery.
- For a few hours, your eyes may feel scratchy or feel like they are burning. You will be given special eye drops to reduce dryness and help your eye heal.
About 9 out of 10 people (90%) who have LASIK end up with vision between 20/20 and 20/40—without glasses or contact lenses.
It is important to know that LASIK cannot correct presbyopia. This is the normal, age-related loss of close-up vision. With or without refractive surgery, almost everyone who has excellent distance vision will need reading glasses after around age 40.
To help with presbyopia, some people have LASIK to get monovision. This means one eye is left slightly nearsighted and the other eye is adjusted for distance vision. The brain learns to adapt so that the nearsighted eye is used for close work, while the other eye sees distant objects. Monovision is not for everyone. To see if you are able to adapt to this correction, you will probably want to try monovision with contact lenses first.