What is Laser Eye Surgery
Laser eye surgery is a procedure undertaken to correct vision. It has become quite popular in the UK, with around 100,000 surgeries being conducted every year. It is viewed as a convenient and easy way of correcting problems related to eyesight without getting the patients to wear contact lenses or glasses. While contact lenses and glasses have been traditionally used to correction vision problems, some find it inconvenient and difficult, and would like a permanent solution. With the help of laser eye surgery, a person no longer has to wear a vision corrective device and is able to get near perfect eyesight.
The eye surgery usually involves changing the shape of the cornea with the help of a laser known as excimer laser. However, there are many types of laser eye surgery, which are mainly used to correct myopia, hypermetropia and astigmatism. As the surgery is not considered as an essential procedure, it is normally not available through the NHS. The Royal College of Ophthalmologists suggests that patients should get the surgery done by trained ophthalmologists, who have had additional training in performing refractive surgery.
Types of Laser Eye Surgery
LASIK — The full form of LASIK is laser in situ keratomileusis and has been available in the UK since the middle of the 1990s. This is the most frequently performed laser eye surgery in the country. Practically all kinds of refractive errors can be corrected with the help of LASIK, but usually it is not recommended for extreme myopia. In LASIK, the cornea is cut with the help of a special blade called microkeratome to make a flap and then the exposed part is reshaped with the help of an excimer laser. Thereafter, the corneal flap is replaced.
LASEK — This is acronym for laser epithelial keratomileusis. In this procedure that epithelial layer of the cornea is cut with the help of a trephine and kept as a flap. The exposed part is reshaped. It is claimed that by keeping the epithelial layer of the cornea, complications are averted, but healing is hastened.
PRK — This stands for photorefractive keratectomy and has been available in the UK since the latter half of the 1980s. It is used primarily for correcting low degrees of myopia. The procedure of reshaping the cornea does not involve cutting a corneal flap. Instead the epithelial layer is completely removed during the course of the surgery.
Wavefront-guided LASIK — This procedure is used mainly to remove irregularities of the eye which result in the light rays focusing incorrectly. The irregularities are found out by using severe light sources to get a scanned image of the cornea. Once the surgeon has the required information, the reshaping of the cornea is done using a laser. The surgery helps to improve vision for accurately compared to LASIK and LASEK.
Risks of Laser Eye Surgery
Usually, complications due to laser eye surgery are less than 5 percent, but it is important for a person to check with the ophthalmologist about all the associated risks and complications. Some people complain for dry eyes following the surgery. This can be rectified with the help of artificial tear. Several people complain of halo effects while driving at night. This is more common immediately after the surgery, and occurs when high degree for myopia or hypermetropia is done. It is not a severe condition.
In rare instances, due to over thinning of the corneal tissue, the shape of the eye becomes unstable. Although vision loss after a laser eye surgery is rare, some people may have to undergo additional corneal surgery or wear hard contact lenses to get back their vision.