A LASIK enhancement is a follow-up LASIK procedure that sometimes is performed if the outcome of your original vision correction surgery is unsatisfactory.
In most cases, you can expect a good result following a LASIK procedure even if an enhancement is done to help you achieve better vision.
A worldwide study by the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery in findings published in 2008 showed that more than 95 percent of the 16 million people who had undergone LASIK surgery were pleased with their new vision.
But as your eye doctor will tell you before you have LASIK surgery, not everyone will achieve crystal-clear, 20/20 vision after just one procedure.
Each case has a unique combination of variables that can affect visual outcomes. So in some instances, you may need additional eye surgery — often in the form of a LASIK enhancement — to give you the sharpness of vision you desire.
Assessing Visual Satisfaction After LASIK
A number of factors affect your satisfaction after LASIK:
► The characteristics and health of your corneas.
► The type of refractive error you have, such as whether you are nearsighted or farsighted or have astigmatism.
► The amount (strength) of your prescription needed to correct your vision problem.
► The amount of tears you produce and their quality, which could be a factor in dry eyes after LASIK.
► Your age.
► Your expectations.
Although LASIK successfully corrects high degrees of nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism, younger people with mild nearsightedness and astigmatism generally are the best candidates for a good outcome.
Your expectations before LASIK also play a key role in how happy you are afterward. Remember, the goal of LASIK is to decrease your dependence on glasses and help you to see acceptably well without corrective lenses. Results vary from person to person.
Although many people who have had LASIK believe they see better than they did with eyeglasses or contact lenses before surgery, not everyone has the same experience.
After LASIK, you can expect your vision to be slightly better or about the same as it was with glasses.
A small percentage of people may notice their vision is not quite as good as it was with glasses before LASIK surgery. But you should be able to drive safely and perform other routine daily tasks without glasses or contact lenses after vision correction surgery.
When Is a LASIK Enhancement Needed?
When evaluating your vision after LASIK, it’s important to be patient (no pun intended). Although you should be able to see much better without glasses the day after surgery, it’s not unusual for vision to fluctuate for several weeks.
As part of your follow-up care after LASIK, your eye doctor will monitor your vision for several weeks to months.
If your vision still seems blurry three months after LASIK, you may need a LASIK enhancement.
Though not expected, it’s possible that you may feel uncomfortable driving or performing other visual tasks after LASIK. If this occurs, be sure to tell your eye doctor. If necessary, he or she can prescribe new eyeglasses for you to wear part-time until your vision improves and stabilizes.
If your vision is still noticeably blurred three months after LASIK, you may need an enhancement.
To determine whether you’re a good candidate for a LASIK enhancement, your eye doctor will re-evaluate your corneas with the same methods used prior to your first LASIK procedure.
Among other considerations, your eye doctor will check to see whether you have enough corneal thickness for a second surgery.
How Does a LASIK Enhancement Differ From the Original Procedure?
A LASIK enhancement is nearly identical to a primary LASIK procedure, except for one aspect. Rather than using a microkeratome or laser to create a corneal flap, the surgeon performing a LASIK enhancement uses specialized tools to lift the flap that was created on your eye’s surface during your primary LASIK surgery.
Re-lifting the flap is painless and typically takes only one or two minutes. Then your surgeon uses an excimer laser to reshape your cornea.
Typically, only minimal additional reshaping of the cornea is necessary during an enhancement. So this laser treatment takes just a few seconds.
After the enhancement, you will receive the same post-operative instructions that you were given after your primary LASIK procedure. Be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions exactly to reduce the risk of eye infection and facilitate a good visual outcome.
In most cases, only one LASIK enhancement is necessary to restore vision to an acceptable level. However, in difficult cases, more than one enhancement may be required.