Laser Eye Surgery

Laser eye surgery, also known as "refractive surgery" or "vision correction" is a type of procedure done to improve a patient's eyesight, providing freedom from glasses or contacts.

Are You A Good Candidate For Laser Eye Surgery? (LASIK,LASEK,PRK)

Overview

Many people with vision problems have considered laser eye surgery at some point.

Laser eye surgery, also known as “refractive surgery” or “vision correction” is a type of procedure done to improve a patient’s eyesight, providing freedom from glasses or contacts.

But as with any surgery, not every type of treatment is the best option for every patient. Knowing about and considering every angle of each type of laser eye surgery is very important in choosing the correct form of treatment.

Types Of Laser Eye Surgery

There are three main corrective surgeries:

  • LASIK
  • PRK (photorefractive keratectomy)
  • LASEK

All three of these procedures are effective because they reshape your cornea and correct your vision problems. But all three of them have different methods or techniques of performance.

With new and innovative technologies being discovered, and with the emergence of modern medical science, laser eye surgery methodologies are advancing at an all-time high.

In a matter of just 3 decades, laser eye surgery has developed so significantly, that some eye procedures are completely bladeless, making it easier to get accurate and effective vision correction.

Why Is Laser Eye Surgery Done?

Vision problems that can be corrected with laser eye surgery include:

  • Nearsightedness (myopia): When your eyeball is slightly longer than average or when the cornea bends too sharply, light beams focus in front of the retina and blur distant vision. This results in you seeing close objects clearly, however, objects that are far away are not seen as they should be.
  • Farsightedness (hyperopia): When your eyeball is shorter than normal or you have a cornea that is too flat, light beams focus behind the retina instead of on it. This results in you not seeing close and sometimes distant objects clearly.
  • Astigmatism: When you have a cornea that curves or flattens unevenly, near and distant vision can be disrupted. This is called astigmatism.

LASIK

Laser-assisted in situ keratomileuses (LASIK) eye surgery is the best known and most commonly performed laser eye surgery to correct vision problems. LASIK can be an alternative for patients wearing glasses or contact lenses.

Before The Surgery

Your doctor will evaluate your condition to ensure that LASIK is the best choice of treatment for you. You will undergo a thorough eye examination and provide a full medical history for your ophthalmologist.

Your eye doctor will also measure your cornea, evaluating the shape, thickness, contour,  and any unevenness. They will note the areas of your cornea that need reshaping and establish the exact amount of tissue that needs to be removed from the cornea during surgery.

During The Surgery

LASIK surgery is usually completed in 30 minutes or less. During the procedure, you lie on your back in a reclining chair and you will be given numbing drops through your eye, which means you won’t feel any pain. You may be given additional medications to help you relax.

  1. After the numbing drops are applied to your eye, your doctor will use a retractor to keep your eyelids from closing.
  2. During the surgery, you’ll be asked to focus on a point of light. Staring at this light helps you keep your eye fixed while the laser reshapes your cornea.
  3. Your surgeon will place a suction ring on your eye that may cause a feeling of pressure, and dim your vision for a while.
  4. After the suction ring is placed, your doctor will use a small blade or cutting laser to make a small hinged flap from the front of your eye. This gives your doctor access to the part of the cornea that needs reshaping.
  5. Using a programmed laser, your eye surgeon will reshape parts of your cornea by removing a small amount of corneal tissue with each laser beam.
  6. You may detect a distinct scent as the laser removes your corneal tissue. After reshaping the cornea, the surgeon will lay the flap back into place. The flap usually doesn’t need any stitches to heal.
  7. If you need LASIK surgery in both eyes, doctors will generally perform the procedure simultaneously.

After The Procedure

Right after your procedure, you may experience:

  • Itching of the eye
  • Feeling gritty
  • Burning in the eye
  • Watering of the eye
  • Temporary blurred vision
  • Minor pain or discomfort

Your doctor will give you pain medication or eye drops to reduce your discomfort for several hours following the procedure. You may also be asked to wear a protective cover over your eyes at night until they completely heal.

You’ll be able to see after the surgery, but your vision won’t be stabilized and clear right away. It will take between 2 to 3 months after your surgery for your eye to heal and your vision to stabilize.

1 or 2 days after your procedure, you will be asked to have an appointment with your doctor for a follow-up, to check for any complications and also ensure that your eyes are healing well.

Your doctor may also recommend planning for other follow-up appointments during the first six months after the surgery.

It might be a few weeks before you can start to use cosmetics around your eyes again. Check with your doctor to see when it’s safe to resume daily activities.

Potential Side Effects Of LASIK

  • Temporary Dry eyes. LASIK surgery causes a temporary decrease in tear production therefore, your eyes may feel unusually dry.

Your eye doctor might recommend eye drops to help with dry eyes, but any discomfort should go away after 6 months.  

  • Glare, light halos, and double vision. You may experience some difficulty with seeing at night after your treatment. This is temporary and can last a few days to a few weeks.
  • Undercorrections.If the laser doesn’t remove enough tissue from your eye, you won’t get results as clear as you desired. Undercorrections are more common for nearsighted people.
  • Overcorrections. If the laser removes more tissue than it is supposed to, results can alter. Overcorrections are usually more difficult to reverse than undercorrections.
  • Astigmatism. If your surgeon removes cornea tissue unevenly, astigmatism occurs. If this happens, you may need additional surgery, glasses, or contact lenses.
  • Flap problems. Removing the flap from the front of your eye or folding it during surgery can cause complications, including infection and watery eyes.
  • Regression. Rarely, the patient’s vision reverses to their original prescription.
  • Vision loss or changes. Rarely, surgical complications can result in vision loss. In some cases, people may experience blurry vision and not see as sharply as before.

According to Mayo Clinic:” More than 8 out of 10 people who’ve undergone LASIK refractive surgery no longer need to use their glasses or contact lenses for most of their activities.”

Many patients experience 20/20 vision after LASIK, however, there is some variation in results. It’s not uncommon for patients to have 20/40 vision or less.

Are You A Good Candidate For LASIK Surgery?

To be eligible for a LASIK procedure you need to meet several requirements:

  • You must be 18 (sometimes 21) years or older
  • You must not have any underlying eye conditions such as severe dry eye syndrome, conjunctivitis (pink eye), infection, and any type of eye injury.
  • Your cornea must have sufficient thickness
  • Your pupils must not be too large
  • Your vision must be stable
  • Your prescription must be within certain limits.

If you are ready for a LASIK surgery, ask your doctor whether you are eligible for the procedure.

PRK (Photorefractive keratectomy)

PRK is considered by many to be the first generation of laser vision correction. While it may have fallen out of popularity to some extent when LASIK was created, however, it has experienced somewhat of a resurgence in recent years. Many doctors now prefer PRK to LASIK for specific kinds of patients.

Before The Surgery

You’ll have a preoperative appointment to have your eyes assessed and your vision tested. In preparation for surgery, your surgeon will measure the error and the pupil in each eye, and map the cornea. The laser used during your procedure will be programmed with this information.

During The Surgery

PRK takes 5 to 10 minutes per eye. Just like LASIK surgery, PRK doesn’t require general anesthesia, and you may only be given numbing eye drops in each eye.  

  1. Your doctor will use an instrument to keep your eyelids from closing.
  2. The surgeon will remove and discard the corneal surface cells of your eye. This may be done with a laser, blade, alcohol solution, or brush.
  3. Using your eyes’ measurements from your appointment, your doctor will reshape each cornea with the programmed laser.
  4. A clear, nonprescription contact lens will be placed on each eye as a bandage. This will keep your eyes clean, avoiding infection during the healing process. The bandage contact lenses will remain on your eyes for several days to one week.

After The Surgery

After surgery, you’ll rest at the clinic and then go home. Keeping your eyes closed may help with recovery and with your overall comfort level.

Your doctor may prescribe eye drops and other pain medications to help you with any discomfort.

Your doctor will recommend you to plan a follow-up appointment 1 or 2 days after the procedure, to assess the results and your comfort level.

It may take several weeks before your vision stabilizes completely. Vision typically improves around 80 percent after one month, and 95 percent by the three-month mark. Around 90 percent of people have 20/40 vision or better by three months after the surgery.

Potential Side Effects Of PRK

  • Temporary or permanent dry eyes 
  • Glare, light halos, and double vision
  • Corneal Haze: a cloudy layer that can significantly obstruct vision, for a short time after surgery.
  • Overcorrection
  • Undercorrection
  • Regression
  • Vision loss or changes. Rarely, surgical complications can result in vision loss. In some cases, people may experience blurry vision and not see as sharply as before.

Are You A Good Candidate For PRK Surgery?

To qualify for a PRK procedure you must meet several criteria:

  • You must be 18 (sometimes 21) years or older
  • You must not have any underlying conditions such as ulceration of the cornea, Keratoconus, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus or other autoimmune diseases
  • Your vision must be stable
  • Your prescription must be within certain limits. ( your doctor will determine this).

Also, since PRK doesn’t require the creation of a flap, like LASIK, it’s a popular option for people with thin corneas who are unable to have LASIK eye surgery.

LASEK

LASEK eye surgery is a variation of PRK surgery and is performed to correct vision problems like nearsightedness, Farsightedness, and astigmatism.

During LASEK, your surgeon will combine certain techniques from both PRK and LASIK.

Before The Surgery

For your initial doctor’s appointment, your surgeon will perform a thorough eye exam and check your overall health condition, to determine whether or not you are a qualified candidate for this procedure. In most cases, LASEK is only recommended to patients who are not suited to have LASIK eye surgery.

During The Surgery

The procedure should take about 15 minutes per eye. You will be awake for the procedure and won’t feel any pain, however, your doctor might give you a mild sedative to keep you comfortable.

  1. Your surgeon will apply numbing drops to your eye.
  2. Then, your eye surgeon will use a retractor to keep your eyelids from closing.
  3. Next, they will make a circular cut in the corneal epithelium using a fine blade to make a flap.
  4. Your doctor will then place a diluted alcohol solution over the eye for about 30 seconds. This will loosen the edges of the epithelium and permit your surgeon to gently push the loosened flap of the epithelium to the side.
  5. Using the laser which is programmed with your eyes’ measurements, your physician will reshape the cornea and correct your vision.
  6. After the laser treatment is completed, your doctor will reposition the created flap over the eye, usually without any stitches.
  7. For the protection of the eye, a certain contact lens will then be placed over your eye.

After The Surgery

Immediately after your treatment, you might feel mild discomfort in your surgical region.  

After a brief period of rest, you can return home.

Your doctor may prescribe some eye drops to help reduce any soreness in your eyes. They may also prescribe antibiotics for at least three weeks to help with the recovery process and lower the risks of infection.

Initial visual recovery from the procedure can take up to a week with LASEK, which is longer than the 24-hour recovery time of LASIK surgeries. Results can be seen anywhere from a few weeks to several months.

Your doctor will recommend you to plan a follow-up appointment 1 or 2 days after the procedure, to assess the results and your comfort level.

LASEK and PRK results are similar to LASIK outcomes. Most people achieve 20/20 vision after laser eye surgery, and nearly in all cases, patients will achieve 20/40 vision or better.

Potential Side Effects Of LASEK Surgery

Some complications may include:

  • Blurry vision
  • Glare and Light halos
  • Temporary or permanent dry eyes
  • Eye irritation
  • Infection
  •  Tissue damage to epithelial cells that slows the healing process caused by the alcohol solution used during the procedure

Are You a Good Candidate For LASEK Surgery?

You will be qualified for a LASEK surgery if:

  • Your eye prescription is within certain limits
  • You have no additional eye conditions, such as severe cataracts,  keratoconus, uncontrolled glaucoma, corneal disease, and other specific retinal and optic nerve diseases.
  • You have no residual or active eye conditions including optic neuritis, ocular herpes, some cases of amblyopia (lazy eye) and strabismus (muscle imbalance).
  • You have no existing or recurring infections.

Bottomline

Make sure to discuss all your options with your care physician to ensure that you are choosing the right treatment for you. While laser eye surgeries can be amazing alternatives for wearing glasses or contacts, it’s important to weigh all the pros and cons of the different procedures to determine which option is best for you which can only be done by a comprehensive eye exam.

At Medgo, we offer different types of vision corrective surgeries including LASIK, LASEK, and PRK, and many more cost-effective packages.

Before you rush into deciding on anything, you can take advantage of our free medical consultation services, with top medical professionals in the field, here to answer your questions!

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