Laser eye surgery has become an increasingly popular option for those who want to finally be free of glasses or contact lenses. The procedure, also known as refractive surgery, involves the use of a laser to reshape the cornea and improve the way light enters the eye. While laser eye surgery can offer significant benefits for patients, it is not without risks.
Understanding the potential benefits and risks of the procedure, as well as the types of laser eye surgery available, can help you to make informed decisions about whether this is the right option for you. In this article, we will explore the benefits and risks of laser eye surgery, as well as the preoperative testing, different types of surgery, and postoperative care involved.
The Benefits of Laser Eye Surgery
Laser eye surgery offers a number of benefits for those who are seeking a permanent solution to their vision problems. Some of the most notable benefits include:
- Improved vision: Laser eye surgery can correct a variety of vision problems, including nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. By reshaping the cornea, the laser can help to improve the way light enters the eye, leading to clearer vision.
- No need for glasses or contact lenses: For many people, the idea of being able to see clearly without the need for glasses or contact lenses is incredibly appealing. Laser eye surgery provides freedom from the inconvenience and expense of glasses and contacts.
- Long-lasting results: Unlike some other vision correction options, such as contact lenses, laser eye surgery offers long-lasting results. In many cases, you will not need to undergo any further vision correction procedures.
- Fast recovery time: Laser eye surgery is a minimally invasive procedure, which means that most people experience a relatively fast recovery time. In some cases, patients are able to return to work or other activities within a few days of the procedure.
The Risks Involved in Laser Eye Surgery
While laser eye surgery can offer significant benefits, there are also several risks associated with the procedure. Some of the most common risks include:
- Dry eyes: Following laser eye surgery, some people may experience dryness and discomfort in their eyes. This can be caused by a reduction in tear production or changes in tear composition. In most cases, this side effect is temporary and can be managed with eye drops or other treatments.
- Glare, halos, and double vision: Some patients may experience issues with glare, halos, or double vision following laser eye surgery. These side effects can make it difficult to see clearly in low-light conditions, such as when driving at night. While these side effects are usually temporary, they can be more persistent in some cases.
- Over-correction or under-correction: While laser eye surgery is generally very effective at correcting vision problems, there is a risk of over-correction or under-correction. Overcorrection occurs when too much tissue is removed during the surgery, while under-correction occurs when not enough tissue is removed. In either case, additional surgery may be necessary to correct the issue.
- Flap complications: In some cases, the corneal flap created during LASIK surgery may not heal properly, leading to complications such as infection or inflammation. While these complications are rare, they can be serious and may require additional treatment.
If it can be shown that following laser eye surgery, there are negative side effects caused by negligence, then it may be appropriate for the patient to consider a personal injury claim. Not only does this recompense the individual for costs incurred, but it also ensures that surgeons maintain the highest levels of competence.
While laser eye surgery is a popular option, not everyone is a suitable candidate for the procedure. Generally, the following criteria need to be met -:
Most laser eye surgery candidates are between the ages of 20 and 40. Candidates who are younger than 20 may not be suitable as their eyes are still developing, while those who are older than 40 may have other age-related eye problems.
You should have had stable vision for at least a year before undergoing laser eye surgery. This means that your vision prescription has not changed significantly over the past year.
Your eyes should be healthy with no signs of infection or disease. If you have eye conditions, such as cataracts or glaucoma, then you may not be suitable for laser eye surgery.
Good overall health
You will need to be in good overall health with no significant medical problems that could affect your ability to heal from the surgery.
In addition to the suitability assessment, you will also need to undergo the following tests –
Your eyes will be measured to determine the exact shape and size of the cornea. This information is used to determine the amount of tissue that needs to be removed during the surgery.
This measures the degree of nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism and is used to determine the most appropriate type of laser eye surgery.
Eye health evaluation
Then you will be evaluated for signs of disease or infection. This may include tests for glaucoma, cataracts, or other conditions.
Discussion of risks and benefits
Finally, you should always have the opportunity to discuss the potential risks and benefits of laser eye surgery with your surgeon. This will help you to make an informed decision about whether the procedure is right for you.
Different Types of Laser Eye Surgery
There are several different types of laser eye surgery available, each of which uses a slightly different technique to reshape the cornea and correct vision problems. The most common types of laser eye surgery include:
LASIK (Laser-Assisted In Situ Keratomileusis)
LASIK is the most commonly performed type of laser eye surgery. During LASIK, a small flap is created in the cornea using a microkeratome or a femtosecond laser. The flap is then lifted, and a laser is used to reshape the underlying cornea. The flap is then repositioned and left to heal. LASIK is typically used to correct nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism.
PRK (Photorefractive Keratectomy)
PRK was the first type of laser eye surgery developed and is still used today, particularly for patients who are not suitable for LASIK. During PRK, the outer layer of the cornea is removed, and a laser is used to reshape the underlying cornea. A contact lens is then placed on the eye to protect it as it heals. PRK is typically used to correct nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism.
LASEK (Laser Epithelial Keratomileusis)
LASEK is similar to PRK, but the outer layer of the cornea is not fully removed. Instead, a flap is created in the outer layer of the cornea, and the laser is used to reshape the underlying cornea. The flap is then repositioned and left to heal. LASEK is typically used to correct nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism.
SMILE (Small Incision Lenticule Extraction)
SMILE is a newer type of laser eye surgery that uses a femtosecond laser to create a small, precise incision in the cornea. A small piece of tissue called a lenticule, is then removed through the incision, reshaping the cornea and correcting vision problems. SMILE is typically used to correct nearsightedness.
The specific type of laser eye surgery recommended will depend on several factors, including the type and severity of your vision problems, the thickness and shape of your cornea, and your overall health.
The Recovery Period and Post Operative Care
The recovery process following laser eye surgery is typically fairly quick, with most people experiencing improved vision within a few days of the procedure. However, it is important to follow post-operative care instructions carefully in order to ensure quick healing and minimize the risk of complications.
Immediately following the procedure, you may experience some discomfort and sensitivity in your eyes, for which eye drops and medication may be prescribed. Most people are able to return to work and normal activities within a few days of the procedure, although it is important to avoid activities that could cause eye strain or eye injuries.
In the days and weeks following the procedure, you will have several follow-up appointments with the surgeon to monitor the healing and ensure that your vision is improving.
There are also the following general guidelines for post-operative care:
- Avoid rubbing the eyes.
- Avoid getting water in the eyes.
- Wear eye protection, such as goggles or sunglasses
- Follow medication instructions.
- Attend follow-up appointments.
It is important to note that while most patients experience significant improvements in their vision following laser eye surgery, some degree of fluctuation in vision is normal in the weeks and months following the procedure.
Laser eye surgery is a popular and effective procedure for correcting vision problems such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. While it offers many benefits, including improved vision and reduced reliance on glasses or contact lenses, it is important to carefully consider the potential risks and complications before undergoing the procedure.
You should also be aware of the different types of laser eye surgery available and discuss your options with the surgeon in order to determine the most appropriate treatment for your needs. With proper preoperative testing, careful consideration of risks, and diligent postoperative care, laser eye surgery can be a safe and effective way to improve vision and quality of life.