By: Marlene Affeld
Face it, wearing corrective lens or contact lens can be a real inconvenience and a costly, reoccurring expense. Perhaps you feel that glasses detract from your appearance or contact lens scratch and are uncomfortable and difficult to wear.
Medical experts agree, noting, “Lasik Laser Eye Surgery is an exciting type of laser vision correction procedure that can help dramatically reduce your dependency on contact lenses or eyeglasses for seeing at a distance.”
Laser eye surgery is a true miracle of modern medicine. Enhanced vision can improve the quality of your life. Everyone wants to be able clearly see and appreciate the wonders of the world. Impaired vision can be a small challenge that keeps you from reading the newspaper or driving a vehicle without corrective lens or it may be a major impediment hat affects your ability to function without dependence on others. In many cases laser eye surgery can correct the problem.
It is truly amazing that a tiny incision can make such a life changing difference. Invented in the 1980s, the procedure has now been successfully performed more than 16 million times worldwide. Patients that have had successful laser eye surgery love their new clear 20/20 vision.
History Of Laser Eye Surgery
It all began when an experimental type of laser known as the excimer laser was being tested at an IBM research facility. As a by-product of their experiments, scientist discovered, much to their amazement, that the excimer laser could incise animal tissue precisely and never leave a scar. Ophthalmologists were quick to recognize the lasers potential and approached researchers to learn how this innovative new technology could be used in eye surgery.
Prior to1995, individuals who were nearsighted, farsighted or who had impaired vision due to astigmatism had only two options readily available for enhancing their vision; they could opt for eyeglasses or contact lenses. Although surgeons tried different methods such as Radial Keratotomy, they attempts had not meet a standard of acceptance by either doctors or patients due to the many variables in the safety and efficacy of the surgery or the predictability of the results.
In a short 15 years, laser eye surgery correction results and safety have improved dramatically. Today, the newest technological advances in the use of laser eye surgery in ophthalmology provide a diverse array of laser procedures to enhance and preserve vision.
What Is Lasik or Laser Surgery?
Laser eye surgery is a corrective surgical procedure for a wide range of vision defects, including astigmatism, myopia and hyperopia. The cornea or outer layer of the eye bends light rays to provide focus and clear vision. However, eyes with astigmatism or if you are farsighted or nearsighted, either the light can’t bend enough or its bends so much that vision is blurred and distorted.
Lasik surgery is most commonly performed on myopes. For myopia, the surgeon flattens the cornea. In patients with hyperopia, the surgeon steepens the cornea. In the case of astigmatism, eye surgeons correct the problem by crafting a normally shaped cornea with the laser.
Lasik laser surgery only take a short amount of time to perform and is typically done on an outpatient basis. Likely your doctor will advise you not to take aspirin, ibuprofen or vitamin E for at least a couple of weeks prior to the surgery and will prescribe sedation medication to keep you calm and relaxed during the procedure.
During laser eye surgery, using an excimer laser, the surgeon manipulates the cornea enabling light to bend properly thus repairing the vision impairment. The surgery begins when the doctor uses an instrument known as a micokeratome to cut a tiny, circular flap on the cornea. The flap is then fold back or elevated and a laser with a beam of ultra-violet light is used to reform the cornea by removing microscopic bits of corneal tissue. The flap is then folded back and carefully smoothed back into place with a small sponge.
As laser technology progressed, surgeons now have a second and often preferred method of making the incision in the cornea. As the technology improved, engineers designed a more precise method employing a femtosecond laser that creates a smoother treatment bed and leave the corneal flap stronger.
When selecting an eye care surgeon for laser treatment to right your vision challenges, be sure to inquire if they use this new method. Making laser eye surgery ”bladeless” the femtosecond laser method is preferred in the majority of quality-oriented practices.
Is Laser Surgery The Right Choice For Me?
Only a complete examination by an experience and qualified laser eye surgeon can determine if laser surgery is right for you. You doctor will perform tests to determine refractive error and your uncorrected and corrected visual acuity. At that time, a cyclopelgic refraction using eye drop will also be performed. Additional test may include a keratometer reading to determine the curvature of the central part of the cornea and as well as corneal mapping, a test or glaucoma and cataracts as well as a fungus exam and a silt lamp test to check for any damage to the cornea. Your doctor will ask take your complete medical history and inquire if your or anyone in your family have macular degeneration or macular disease.
If you determine that you are a good candidate for laser surgery, you will want to have your surgery performed using the best possible laser for your eyes. The United States Federal Drug Administration (FDA) has approved several different types of excimer laser. These various models vary in the treatment patterns used for corrective eye surgery. Your doctor may use older traditional patterns or the latest improved modern patterns with names like “wavefront guided, “wavefront optimized” or “topo guided.”
Newer generation lasers, found in major eye surgery centers, monitor the eye’s position constantly; up to 400 times per second during the surgery. It is important to consult an experienced Lasik eye surgeon to best determine which pattern can offer the optimum results for your unique focusing problem.
If you select an eye surgeon affiliated with a major eye care center with multiple excimer lasers and multiple laser patterns, your options will not be limited by a lack of the latest technology.
Laser Eye Surgery And Nearsightedness
Many persons who have myopia or nearsightedness find that their eyes actually improve with age. Scientific research shows that the weakening of the muscles that support the lens or the hardening of the eye’s natural lens may help correct the vision problems caused by myopia. Studies have shown that patients that have the procedure performed in their 20s then find that they need corrective lens for reading by 40 or 50 when they may otherwise have not required corrective lens until the were well into their 80s. Considering this trend, patient need to evaluate the correct benefit of laser eye surgery at an early age versus the drawbacks, the procedure may cause at some future date.
Concerns And Cautions
If you are considering laser surgery, it is important to remember that while the technological advances in eye care are now available to a larger number of eye surgeons, the procedure is surgeon dependent and discomfort, recovery and final results are left in the skilled hands of the surgeon.
Millions of patients have experienced successful eye surgery with research studies indicating that patients feel that laser eye surgery delivered the best results and the highest level of patient satisfaction every recorded. However laser eye surgery is not without risk and complications can occur including the risk of less than satisfactory results or a life-threatening infection.
What you need to know before deciding to go ahead with laser (Lasik) eye surgery is this. The incised flap in the cornea never heals. Yes, that’s right never! In most patients this is not a concern as there is adequate suction power that keeps the flap in place and you never know its there. Complications of laser surgery are most often due to a miss-cut flap or one that detaches entirely. However, the risk of this happening is low if you have entrusted your eyes to a competent surgeon.
Some patients experience side effects following Lasik surgery that typically disappears overtime, however in a small minority of patients these side effects may become permanent. Side effects include dryness of the eye, scratchiness and irritation or other symptoms known as “dry eye.” Others complain of glare or starbursts or halos around lights and a new sensitivity to light while still others might complain of pain, discomfort or red patches in the white of the eye.
For the optimum results, it is highly recommended that you select an eye surgeon that has embraced the latest advances and improvements in technology and techniques.