Aside from its role in cosmetic surgery and procedures, laser technology has revolutionized the practice of vision correction surgery. Laser eye surgery promises to permanently correct a person’s vision by changing the way the eye collects light. In some patients, for whom contact lenses do not offer full vision correction, laser surgery of the eyes can give them perfect or near perfect vision without glasses. In almost everyone, laser vision surgery can improve vision without the use of contacts or glasses.
One of the more commonly used laser eye procedures is popularly known as LASIK. LASIK stands for Laser-Assisted In Situ Keratomileusis and involves using a laser to resurface a portion of the cornea. In this laser eye surgery, the eye is held in place with a very small suction cup. Once held in place with suction, an extremely thin blade is passed across the front of the eye to create a small flap. Once this flap is folded back, a laser is directed on the surface of the eye to change its shape. After the eye is contoured, the flap is put back into place and the eye is allowed to heal. Once the healing process has taken place, patients report a dramatic improvement in vision.
Not everyone is a candidate for laser eye surgery and certain risks need to be considered before embarking on such a procedure. If you have a very large refractive error (a strong prescription) laser surgery may not correct your vision entirely. Also realize that there are risks associated with the procedure. For example, in rare cases people may suffer a worsening of vision if the surgery is not effective. Some jobs place restrictions on vision correction surgery for their employees and you should make some inquiries well in advance of your procedure to determine if your field is one of them. Also, if you require changes in your eye prescription every few years, your eyes may not have a stable refractive error. That means surgical correction may not last very long and, once it has been performed, may not be an option a second or third time, depending on the amount of tissue that was removed by the laser. Additionally, laser eye surgery is not approved for those under the age of 18 and in those having problems with wound healing such as patients with diabetes.
If you decide on laser surgery to correct your vision, you will need to prepare appropriately. The financial aspects of the treatment need to be considered. Laser eye surgery is usually not covered by health insurance. Also, you may need to stop wearing contact lenses prior to the initial consult with your eye surgeon. Contact lenses tend to change the shape of the cornea with prolonged use. If your cornea has been shaped by your contact lenses, any measurements made by the doctor will be inaccurate and will lead to a poor surgical result.
The surgery is usually brief, less than thirty minutes. You will need to wear protective eyewear until you have healed and you will need to avoid certain activities after surgery, so be prepared.
Laser surgery to correct errors of vision is a powerful tool that, while associated with risks and expense, promises to eliminate the need for glasses and contacts entirely.