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What Kinds Of Lasers Are Used During LASIK Eye Surgery?

By Meagan Drillinger
LASIK uses an ultraviolet laser which removes a thin layer of the cornea so that light can be focused more clearly.

If you're looking into LASIK, you may have some questions about how the process works. LASIK is an elective eye surgery that reshapes the cornea in order to improve vision and correct any refractive errors (the way your eye adjusts to light).

The procedure is done with a laser, which adjusts the shape of the cornea. For many people the shape of their cornea, or the curvature, is what causes blurriness. LASIK corrects this with an excimer laser, or an ultraviolet laser, which removes a thin layer of the cornea and gives it a new shape so that light can be focused more clearly.

How do excimer lasers work?

Excimer lasers were developed in the 1980s and give eye surgeons focused ability to remove minute amounts of corneal tissue. The excimer laser in a LASIK procedure creates UV light that is absorbed by tissue,rather than burning or cutting through. This means that the laser can remove fine layers of surface material, while leaving the rest of the tissue intact, and with minimal pain to the patient.

Alcon Laser Technology

Alcon, one of the top companies that specialize in eye care technology, produces WaveLight technology, which is one of the FDA-approved tools for LASIK. The WaveLight offers some of the fastest treatment times, with enhanced accuracy and optimized outcomes. The WaveLight EX500® uses PerfectPulse Technology™ to combine excimer laser technology with flexibility of personalized treatment.

What to expect

LASIK is an outpatient procedure that usually takes between 10 and 15 minutes to perform. The patient does not require any anesthesia, other than eye drops that numb the surface of the eye.

To start, a flap of the cornea tissue is created, which is peeled back so that the excimer laser can work with the tissue underneath. After the procedure, the flap is replaced and held in place naturally. No stitches are needed.

The majority of patients who undergo LASIK can see 20/20 or better after laser vision correction. According to the LASIK Vision Institute, 92% of patients describe their vision as "good" or "excellent" after a LASIK procedure.