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If you’ve been thinking about leaving behind the nuisance of glasses or contact lenses, laser eye surgery could be the solution for clear, effortless vision. With advancing medical technology, this procedure has been enhancing the vision of individuals worldwide. This guide offers key insights to help you decide if laser eye surgery is the right choice.
Laser eye surgery stands out as a cutting-edge procedure focusing on the intricate details of your eye to refine your sight. It tackles common ocular issues, from short-sightedness to long-sightedness and astigmatism. The procedure involves the surgeon delicately crafting a flap in the cornea—your eye’s transparent window—before they deploy a laser to adjust the underlying tissue. They then replace the flap and allow the eye to heal naturally.
The surgeon’s experience, technology, and level of aftercare contribute to the laser eye surgery cost, which is per eye. However, some clinics provide an instalment plan for those who are unable to pay the total upfront. So, when considering the procedure, check with your eye clinic to see if they also offer these plans.
Laser eye surgery comes in several types, each with its nuances. Each type may also require different methods for the procedure. Below are the three most common ones:
LASIK is a laser eye surgery procedure that uses a femtosecond laser to create a thin flap in the cornea, followed by an excimer laser to reshape the underlying corneal tissue. The reshaped cornea allows light to focus properly on the retina, resulting in clear vision.
PRK is another procedure that uses an excimer laser to reshape the cornea and it doesn’t involve creating a flap in the cornea. Instead, the laser removes a thin layer of corneal tissue, which then heals over time. PRK is an excellent option if you have thin corneas or aren’t a good candidate for LASIK.
Much like PRK, LASEK involves a different method to remove corneal tissue. A chemical solution loosens the corneal epithelium, the cornea’s outermost layer, which is then gently brushed away. The excimer laser then reshapes the cornea, after which the epithelium heals back over it. This method could benefit you if you can’t tolerate contact lenses, as it’s less invasive and preserves more of the cornea’s structural integrity.
The ideal procedure will depend on your condition, needs, and preferences. Before settling on a surgery appointment, your ophthalmologist will discuss which type could benefit you best and a few other factors for consideration.
Who Can It Help?
People in good health with refractive errors may find this procedure beneficial. Most individuals over 18 years old are candidates for laser eye surgery. You may be eligible if you also have a stable eyeglass or contact lens prescription for at least a year.
Who Are Unsuitable For Surgery?
However, not all individuals are suitable for laser eye surgery. If you’re pregnant, have certain health conditions (like diabetes or autoimmune diseases), or possess high refractive errors, you may not be suitable. Also, some people’s corneas are too thin for the procedure. A comprehensive examination is crucial before proceeding with the surgery.
The Laser Eye Surgery Process
Though the process itself often lasts only 30 minutes, like all surgical procedures, laser eye surgery requires thorough preparation and aftercare. Here are the steps you should expect when you want to correct your vision through surgery.
Before your laser eye surgery, you’ll undergo a comprehensive examination, often called a ‘pre-operative assessment’. This evaluation includes thoroughly checking your medical history and current health status. Your ophthalmologist will measure the thickness of your cornea, map its surface, assess your refractive errors, and check for any other eye conditions.
You’ll also discuss your lifestyle and vision goals to ensure that laser eye surgery is your best option. Aside from that, you’ll receive detailed instructions about preparing for your surgery, such as stopping the use of contact lenses a few weeks before to allow your corneas to return to their natural shape.
On the day of your procedure, your surgeon will begin by numbing your eyes with anaesthetic drops to ensure your comfort. If you’re undergoing LASIK, your surgeon will use a specialised instrument to create a thin flap in the cornea. This flap is then carefully lifted to expose the underlying corneal tissue.
Next comes the reshaping phase. A precise excimer laser is used to remove a pre-determined amount of corneal tissue, correcting the refractive error. The process is guided by a computer based on measurements taken during your pre-operative assessment, ensuring accuracy.
If you’re nervous, rest assured that the procedure is relatively swift. Even though it seems intricate, the laser works for less than a minute per eye. After reshaping the cornea, the surgeon repositions the corneal flap. It naturally sticks to the tissue below without the need for stitches, making the process minimally invasive.
Immediately after surgery, you’ll rest in a recovery area. You might feel a temporary burning or itching sensation in your eyes. Experiencing hazy vision is expected, but it often clears up within a few hours.
Post-surgery, you’ll be handed a pair of protective glasses to shield your eyes from harsh light and stop you from unconsciously rubbing them. Much like post-blepharoplasty care, your surgeon will provide you with anti-inflammatory and antibiotic drops to curb any inflammation and ward off infections.
After your surgery, follow-up appointments play a pivotal role. These check-ins ensure your eyes are healing just as they should. Remember, complete corneal healing can take up to six months. Attending these check-ups is essential, even if your vision seems perfect.
The recovery period varies among individuals and the type of laser eye surgery. Visual recovery is typically rapid for most LASIK patients, and most patients can resume normal activities within a day or two.
Benefits Of Laser Eye Surgery
One significant benefit of laser eye surgery is clear, glasses-free vision. Many patients achieve 20/20 vision or better. Additionally, the surgery can enhance the quality of life, allowing participation in previously difficult activities due to corrective lenses.
As with any surgical procedure, laser eye surgery carries potential risks. Dry eyes, glare, halos around lights, and vision loss can occur in rare cases. However, advancements in technology and surgical techniques have made complications increasingly rare.
Laser eye surgery is a revolutionary procedure that allows you to enjoy life with clear vision. But remember, it’s a significant decision, and you should take the time to fully understand the process and consult with a qualified ophthalmologist to explore your options. If you’re considering a future without glasses, start exploring your options for clear vision today.