LASIK is a popular refractive surgery that reshapes the cornea to correct near-sightedness (myopia), farsightedness (farsightedness), and astigmatism to improve overall vision. Since FDA approval over 20 years ago, he has performed more than 30 million successful LASIK procedures worldwide. Although LASIK surgery has proven to be highly effective, many people still have questions about LASIK surgery and how it is performed. Today, one of the critical aspects of LASIK surgery is Learning more about creating (and restoring) a LASIK flap, also called a corneal flap.
Where are the LASIK flaps?
At the beginning of LASIK surgery, an ophthalmologist uses a femtosecond laser to create a flap on the cornea’s surface. This laser is computer controlled and allows the surgeon to create a flap with a perfectly precise circular incision around the outer corneal tissue that conforms to the specific shape of the eye. The circular flap folds back, giving the ophthalmologist access to the thickest layer of the cornea (also called the stroma). Corneal flaps are manually folded. This is one of the reasons why he should refer this procedure to a skilled and experienced ophthalmologist.
Corneal inner tissue can now be reshaped with the excimer laser. Adjusting this layer affects how light is focused on the retina, correcting the patient’s refractive error. Once the corneal tissue has reshaped, the ophthalmologist gently moves the corneal flap back, flattening it into place. This flap acts as a natural protective layer for the surgical site. Luckily, the flap will heal and stay in place during and after the healing period, so no sutures are needed to stabilize the flap.
Treatment is quick and painless as numbing eye drops are administered to the eye in need.
Recovery After LASIK Flap Surgery
The corneal flap begins to heal immediately after surgery and is somewhat healed within 1-3 days. During this time, the outer surface of the cornea (also called the epithelium) seals the edges of the newly formed corneal flap. The precision of the laser used to cut the flap allows it to safely and effortlessly return to its original position, and the patient does not feel any difference in eye structure during recovery. Patients are given sleep goggles for up to 1 week after surgery and are advised not to rub their eyes for two weeks afterward. Such precautions can minimize complications and allow the uninterrupted time the eye needs to heal. This is important because the LASIK flap connects to the underlying corneal tissue in the first few weeks after surgery. LASIK recovery time varies from person to person, but it can take up to 3 months for a LASIK flap to heal completely. That said, after a week, the valve should be mostly healed and safe, and you can resume most normal activities at this point. Usually, 4 to 5 weeks after surgery, you can exercise, swim, do eye makeup, and even do contact sports. Regular check-ups by your doctor can closely monitor the progress of the corneal flap healing and determine how quickly you can resume your active daily activities.
How do I know if the LASIK flap has moved?
Flap avulsion after LASIK is rare, occurring in less than 1% of cases. Given the precise nature of modern bladeless LASIK, the flap heals so seamlessly that it would be surprising if the injury caused flap complications. If the LASIK flap should move, you will know for sure. A flap dislocation can cause significant pain, discomfort, excessive tearing, and blurred vision. Most lobar dislocations occur within the first few days after LASIK surgery. This is because eye protection was not worn, and the eyes were hit or bumped. Complications and dislocations of the flap more than one year after LASIK surgery are rare.