When is an Enhancement for LASIK Needed?

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According to studies, 99% of patients having undergone Laser eye surgeries are satisfied with their results when performing routine daily tasks without the help of contact lenses or eyeglasses. However, not all Lasik eye surgeries achieve perfect vision after the first procedure. Lasik surgery can treat high degrees of astigmatism, farsightedness and nearsightedness. Best candidates for Lasik surgery are patients with milder degrees of astigmatism and/or nearsightedness. Although the most majority of individuals who have undergone Lasik eye surgery report a better vision after Lasik without the help of contact lenses or eye glasses, a small percentage of individuals report that despite the significant improvement in the vision, their vision did not improve to the level of their expectation. In such situation, the patient may undergo an additional laser eye surgery called a touch up or a lasik enhancement to further sharpen the vision.
What is Lasik Enhancement?Lasik enhancement or touch up is a procedure following the original lasik procedure with the goal of further sharpening the vision. This procedure is usually performed when the original Lasik surgery fails to provide the expected visual acuity. Before an enhancement, the doctor will first monitor patient’s vision for a few weeks to make sure adequate healing has taken place for the patient to have a stable refraction. Stability in refraction is important since immediately after the first lasik procedure there may be temporary swelling in the tissue contributing to the blurry vision which would resolve without any intervention by itself. If over one month following the original Lasik procedure, there still remains a degree of blurriness, your doctor may suggest an enhancement procedure to further sharpen up the vision.
Factors that Influence the Outcomes of Lasik Eye SurgeryThere are a number of factors that may determine the level of success following a Lasik Eye Surgery: Those factors include:
• Patient’s expectations
• Patient’s age
• Health of the corneas and the eyes
• General health of the patient
• The strength of the initial perception
• The type of refractive (nearsightedness, astigmatism or farsightedness)
• The type of laser used to treat the refractive error
• Surgical room environmental factors (humidity, temperature)
• Careful following of the postoperative instructions
When is an Enhancement needed?Following Lasik surgery, the surgeon monitors the patient vision and healing progress during a series of follow up appointments for a period of time. The vision of most majority of patients shows immediate improvement although in some, the vision could be slightly blurry for a few days. If during a series of follow up visits patient’s vision continues to be blurry, the eye care provider may suggest a touch up procedure is indicated in order to achieve an improved vision.
How Does an Enhancement Differ from the Original ProcedureAn enhancement is a quicker procedure but very similar to the first time Lasik procedure. The key difference between the two is that instead of using a laser or microkeratome to create a flap on the cornea, in enhancement typically the flap that was created the first time is simply lifted using specialized instruments. The lifting of the flap and reshaping of the cornea is usually painless and the procedure can be completed within a few minutes.
Once the flap is lifted from the cornea, just as in the original Lasik procedure, an excimer laser is used to reshape the corneal curvature in order to achieve the desired vision results. After an enhancement, the surgeon will go over the post-operative instructions similar to the one given after the primary procedure. It is important to follow those instructions to facilitate a good visual outcome and to reduce the risks of complications.
Article by
San Diego Ophthalmologist