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How LASIK Works

LASIK addresses common vision problems by using lasers to reshape the curve of the cornea and solve refractive error.

What Is Refractive Error?

In normal vision, the cornea refracts (bends light) so it focuses properly on the retina. Nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism are the result of irregularities of the shape of the cornea (errors in the cornea’s refractive power) resulting in blurred or distorted images being received by the retina. This is termed ‘refractive error’ and can vary from person to person.

3 Steps from Refractive Error to 20/20 Vision

  1. The first step of a LASIK procedure is the creation of the corneal flap which is a thin segment of the outer layer of the cornea. In the early days of LASIK, an instrument called a microkeratome was hand-held and contained an oscillating razor blade used to create the corneal flap. With all-laser LASIK this step is performed with a special IntraLase™ laser to create a thinner and more precise flap that enables faster healing and a more comfortable patient experience.
  2. Next, an excimer laser is used to re-shape the underlying corneal tissue to correct any irregularities. This step of Custom LASIK in Richmond is performed with the VISX STAR S4 laser and is based on a 3D map taken of each individual eye so the most precise corrections are possible.
  3. Finally, the flap is folded back into place where it bonds quickly. Healing is rapid with all-laser LASIK and most people can return to work the next day.

The actual LASIK procedure takes just minutes per eye. Most patients do not feel pain, but there may be a mild to severe pressure sensation as suction is used to elevate the eye pressure during the procedure.


Flap Creation
Excimer Laser Treatment
Excimer Laser Treatment
Flap Creation
Placement of the Flap

Key Questions About The Technology Behind The 3 Steps

What Is All-laser or Blade-free LASIK?

All-laser LASIK is the most advanced evolution for the flap-creation step. In the ‘Blade-free’ or ‘All-laser’ technique, a laser forms a series of bubbles in the corneal tissue to create the flap – rather than using a blade. The advantages with this advanced technique are

  • Greater accuracy
  • Increased stability
  • Greater patient comfort

Which Technology Solves Night Vision Problems?

Many people suffer from night vision problems with or without refractive surgery. In the earliest days of laser vision correction, some patients reported halos and ‘starbursts’ after their procedures, especially when driving at night. Patients with large pupils were susceptible to this complication. Today’s advanced lasers such as the VISX STAR S4 have dealt authoritatively with night vision issues. In fact, many patients report improved night vision after the LASIK procedure.

How Long Does LASIK Last?

The refractive errors corrected by LASIK stay corrected for the rest of your life. Since the cornea is living tissue there can be minor fluctuations and occasionally the need for enhancements as the cornea adapts following the procedure. These are a normal part of the post-operative process.

After the post-operative processes are complete, you can expect your vision to improve and stabilize, with many LASIK patients reporting excellent vision that gets even better over time. Depending on the age at which you have your procedure, you can expect decades of excellent vision free of the effects of refractive error.

What Age-Related Vision Problems Can Occur?

As your eyes age, another component causes further vision trouble for people over age 40, requiring the need for reading glasses. This element is the eye’s lens, which gradually loses flexibility and results in a condition called presbyopia, or the need for reading glasses. Blended Vision LASIK can help this condition significantly.

Watch Jennifer’s Blended Vision Story

By the time you are in your 60s or 70s you may be experiencing another age-related vision problem: cataracts. LASIK cannot address this condition because it is a clouding of the eye’s natural lens, rather than a refractive error.

To learn more about LASIK, contact us today to schedule your free LASIK Consultation.


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