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The most important part of the whole LASIK process is the laser remodeling, or the topographical reconstructions of the cornea to correct the vision imperfections. The highly specialized excimer laser resurfaces the corneal stroma by vaporizing the tissue in a controlled, precise manner, tens of micrometers of tissue at a time. Because of the highly specialized way in which the stroma is targeted, the adjacent stroma is protected. This vaporization process is often misunderstood, as many people think the laser is burning away functional tissue, but this is not the case.
The corneal flap allows for deeper access to the corneal stroma, allowing for more precise laser ablation, faster visual recovery, and less pain overall for the patient. It is this difference in recovery time and ease of the recovery process that set this procedure apart from it's earlier predecessor, the photorefractice keratectomy (PRK.)
As the patient, the moment the corneal flap is created, the patients' vision will become blurry. Most patients report seeing only the white light of the surgeon's office lights surrounding the acute orange light of the laser. This can be mildly disorienting for the patient, but lasts only a few moments until the flap is put back into place.
Once the flap is back to place, the cells of the tissue immediately start regenerating, sealing the flap over the cornea back together remarkably quickly.