As the go-to surgery to correct nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism, and presbyopia, laser eye surgery has successfully treated various vision problems in individuals for over 20 years. Laser eye surgery, also referred to as refractive surgery, is implemented to help reduce dependency on prescription eyewear and contact lenses. Currently, one of the most popular forms of refractive surgery in the United States is LASIK; however, there are other forms of refractive surgeries–laser procedures and intraocular lens procedures–that serve as top-notch options for all vision needs.
The Basics of LASIK
While there are many different forms of laser eye surgery, LASIK remains one of the most popular options that boasts the best results. Since its approval by the FDA, over 19 million LASIK eye surgery procedures have been performed across the US. LASIK–laser in situ keratomileusis–consists of a two-step procedure that starts with making a micron-thin, circular flap on the surface of the eye, the cornea. This first step only takes a few seconds to complete. The surgeon will take the newly created flap and lift it in preparation for the second step. In the second part of the LASIK procedure, a computer-guided excimer laser will begin to remove any microscopic pieces of tissue on the cornea that’s causing vision problems. Once all of the tissue is permanently removed, the flap is put back in place to heal.
During the entire procedure–which is quite short–the patient will be awake. However, to minimize discomfort, numbing drops are placed in each eye. Due to the drops, the LASIK procedure is nearly painless, with only a bit of discomfort following the recovery period of the procedure. Side effects of the procedure are very normal and will resolve on their own in a few weeks. Some common side effects include dry eye, glare, halos, ghosting, and starbursts. Even though LASIK is America’s #1 laser eye surgery option, it’s a procedure that’s not for everyone. In fact, close to 20% of LASIK consultations are not eligible for this procedure. If you are interested in LASIK eye surgery, but are unsure of whether or not you’re a good candidate, be sure to discuss your options with your ophthalmologist.
Other Forms of Laser Eye Surgery
In addition to LASIK, there are many other forms of refractive eye surgery that help to treat countless vision problems. Here are some of these options:
- PRK: Photorefractive Keratectomy (PRK), is a laser eye procedure that’s commonly used to treat mild/moderate forms of nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. In a PRK procedure, the surgeon will use a laser to reshape the surface of the cornea.
- RK: Radial Keratotomy (RK), is another refractive eye procedure that specifically treats nearsightedness. While it’s an effective procedure, it’s rarely used since the rise of LASIK.
- RLE: Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE), also referred to as PRELEX, is a refractive procedure that’s similar to cataract surgery. In this procedure, the surgeon will make small incisions at the edge of the cornea, removes the natural lens, and replaces it with a silicone or plastic version. RLE is used to treat severe forms of farsightedness and nearsightedness.
Before deciding upon a laser eye surgery procedure, be sure to discuss your options with your ophthalmologist. With their expert experience, they will be able to guide you towards the right procedure depending on your specific vision needs.
This article was written by Millennium Laser Eye Centers. Dr. Cory M. Lessner’s extensive training and expertise along with the professional team at Millennium Laser Eye Centers are recognized as a LASIK Leader in the United States.