LeBron James undergoes LASIK

Lebron James and Lasik

LeBron James is a household name, particularly in Ohio. Nicknamed 'King James' he is a top professional basketball player for the Cleveland Cavaliers. Tipped to go far, at the age of 18 he was drafted to play for the Cavaliers and signed his first $90 million contract with Nike sportswear. He averaged 20.9 points, 5.9 assists and 5.5 rebounds per game in his first season and became the youngest player in league history to score 41 points in a game. He was inevitably named NBA Rookie of the Year 2003-04. He went on to become the youngest player to record a triple-double and to score 50 points in a game. A host of titles followed, including NBA Most Valuable Player. He continues to set new records in the game. Needless to say James needs extreme fitness and good eyesight to maintain his position as one of the best basketball players in the world.

In September 2007 James underwent LASIK eye surgery to improve his vision. Eye specialist Dr Kerry Assil of the Assil Eye Institute in Beverly Hills performed the delicate operation. Just a few days later he was cleared to resume his strenuous off-season workouts. The surgery was declared a complete success and LeBron James was able to throw away his contact lenses and his glasses.

The term LASIK stands for Laser Assisted In Situ Keratomileusis. It is a type of refractive laser eye surgery performed by specialist ophthalmologists to correct myopia, hyperopia and astigmatism. In layman's terms this is near or short-sightedness, far or long-sightedness or optical defects caused by an irregular curvature of the cornea or lens of the eye. This very precise laser surgery is preferred over other treatments as it is generally less painful and has a speedier recovery time.

Jose Barraquer pioneered this treatment way back in 1950 in his Colombian clinic. Although he did not have the benefit of lasers, which were not developed until much later, the principal of cutting thin flaps in the cornea and altering its shape to improve eyesight was developed.

In 1968 a carbon-dioxide laser was developed in California and eventually produced the Excimer Laser and refractive eye surgery was born. The technology has come on since then in leaps and bounds, vastly improving the reliability of the procedure since 1991.

LASIK surgery today involves the patient's cornea being examined and measured to ascertain the thickness and contour of the surface. Calculations are made by the surgeon to ascertain the exact cutting which will be necessary to the cornea. Patients are awake during the procedure which lasts about 15 minutes. Anesthetic eye drops are used and nervous patients may take a mild sedative. A thin flap of corneal tissue is cut, the tissue beneath is reshaped with the laser and the flap is repositioned and left to heal. Regular use of eye drops are necessary to reduce inflammation and infection. Dark eye shields are also worn for several days after surgery and goggles are worn at night to prevent any rubbing of the eyes. The procedure is generally uncomfortable, but healing is a matter of days and sight stabilizes over the next few weeks.

Dry eyes are the most common problem after surgery and eye drops may be used regularly. The best way to apply eye drops is to gently hold down the area beneath the eye and with the head tilted slightly backwards, squeeze a couple of eye drops into the well of the lower lid. A couple of blinks will naturally distribute the drops.

Night-time vision is the slowest to be restored, after LASIK surgery. Lights appear to have halos and blurring around them. Night drivers need to be aware of this and may find darkened glasses help.

Lasik surgery has a high success rate with 92-98% of patients being satisfied with the improvement to their sight. Reading glasses may still be required for close work. Generally, like LeBron James this minor surgery is well worth a short time of discomfort in order to improve your sight, whatever level of basketball you may wish to play!

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