In order to understand how LASIK eye surgery works, it is important to understand the necessity and function of the LASIK flap. Essentially, the LASIK flap is a circular strip of the outer layer of your cornea that is folded back to make Laser Vision Correction possible. The flap remains connected to the rest of your corneal tissue by a "hinge" segment. The most common location for this hinge is either on the nasal side of your eye, or the upper ("superior") position of your eye.
Upper Hinge vs. Nasal Hinge
In the past, the most common hinge position was the nasal position, but in recent years most LASIK surgeons create flaps with upper hinges, allowing them to be lifted up from the bottom. This technique is sometimes referred to as "down-up LASIK".
The down-up technique is believed to be more physiologic, since your blinking will help keep the flap in position, contributing to a smoother healing process. Also, gravity contributes to keeping the flap in the best position. However, some LASIK surgeons still prefer the classic nasal hinge since it can reduce the risk of dry eye after LASIK laser eye surgery. Dr. Golden will determine the best hinge position for you after thoroughly examining your eyes.
Creation of the LASIK Flap
Dr. Golden will use a device called a microkeratome to create the LASIK flap. Once it has been created, the flap will allow Dr. Golden to perform Laser Vision Correction surgery on the deeper corneal layers, re-shaping your cornea to improve your vision. The ideal LASIK flap should have the following characteristics:
- A smooth, uniform surface
- Uniform cut depth
- A sufficiently large hinge that is displaced from the laser ablation
- A suitable diameter for refractive ablation
Modern microkeratomes are capable of creating exceptionally thin corneal flaps. Thinner corneal flaps not only heal faster, but also allow Dr. Golden to correct higher degrees of refractive error.
The LASIK Flap Healing Process
Once the LASIK flap is replaced after Laser Vision Correction, the healing process will begin. Since everyone heals differently, the full amount of time it will take for the flap to heal will vary from patient to patient.
In most cases, the LASIK flap will be secure after around two weeks. After a full month, you should be able to return to all of your physical activities, including sports. However, if there is a risk that you might suffer a direct blow to your eye while playing a sport, you should always wear protective goggles.
If you have further questions about the LASIK flap, please contact Doctors For Visual Freedom today to schedule a free LASIK evaluation with our experienced Chicago eye surgeon Dr. Golden. We serve patients throughout the Chicagoland area.