LASIK stands for “laser-assisted in-situ keratomileusis”.
There are 2 basic steps in a LASIK procedure. The first step of LASIK surgery is the creation of the LASIK (or corneal) “flap”. The flap is a thin slice of the cornea, which is cut and opened like a cover of a book. This step allows the surgeon to expose the central region of the cornea to be treated. The flap is created with a device called a microkeratome, which has a rapidly oscillating blade. Creating this flap takes about 10 seconds.
Recently, femtosecond lasers have been developed to create the LASIK flap. The use of these lasers is, in some ways, safer than using a microkeratome. Previously, the femtosecond-created flap took longer to make but with the latest generation of these lasers, the time to make the flap is the same as with the microkeratome, 10 to 12 seconds. Once the flap has been made and opened, the excimer laser removes tissue from the centre of the cornea to re-shape it, correcting the patient’s refractive error. Laser correction lasts between 2 to 40 seconds. Once the correction to the shape of the cornea has been made, the corneal flap is replaced – the way the cover of a book is closed. The corneal flap is then allowed to seal back into position. The entire procedure lasts about 8 to 10 minutes.
Simply put, LASIK is “flap and zap”.