How Laser Vision Correction Works
The most common laser vision correction procedures are done with an excimer laser. The excimer laser is a computer-guided cool laser that corrects vision by reshaping the cornea to improve the way light is focused or refracted by the eye. Two major procedure types are available for treating low to moderate levels of nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism: Laser Assisted In-Situ Keratomileusis (LASIK) and surface ablation, including Photorefractive Keratectomy (PRK) or LASEK (a variation on PRK). In all of these procedures, the laser sculpts the cornea in about 30 to 60 seconds and the entire procedure takes approximately 15 minutes from start to finish.
Laser Assisted In-Situ Keratomileusis (LASIK)
After a drop of anesthetic is applied to the eye, an instrument called a microkeratome glides across the cornea and creates a corneal flap. The surgeon carefully lifts the flap, and in 30 to 60 seconds, ultraviolet high-energy pulses from the excimer laser reshape the internal cornea layers. By adjusting the pattern of the laser beam, the surgeon can treat high levels of nearsightedness and moderate amounts of farsightedness and astigmatism.
After the cornea has been reshaped, the flap is gently replaced in its original position. Because of the cornea's natural bonding qualities, healing is rapid and does not require stitches. Some patients report a slight postoperative discomfort that is usually alleviated with eye drops. Many patients see a dramatic improvement in their vision within a day. For others, vision may fluctuate and continue to improve for several weeks.
Laser Vision Correction & Presbyopia
Once in our 40's and beyond, most of us need reading glasses or bifocals to read smaller print. This condition is called presbyopia and it is caused by changes that occur in the lens inside the eye. Refractive surgery cannot correct presbyopia because refractive procedures alter the shape of the cornea, without changing the lens inside the eye. Symptoms of presbyopia can often be reduced with monovision.
For someone who has presbyopia, monovision reduces your dependence on distance glasses and near glasses. While you may be able to read a dinner menu, labels and price tags, you may still need reading glasses for fine print and prolonged reading. Sometimes distance glasses may be required for night driving. People who have successfully simulated monovision through contact lenses may want to consider the option of monovision for laser refractive surgery.
Customized Laser Vision Correction
Wavefront is an advanced diagnostic technology for laser vision correction and that creates a precise map of your eye, like a blue print. This map enables refractive surgeons to customize your laser vision correction treatment in ways they could not before. For a number of years, laser vision correction could not address more complex visual imperfections that can make even 20/20 vision seem less sharp, such as night glare and halos.
Wavefront technology identifies these highly complex imperfections by projecting light waves into your eye and mapping the waves that bounce back. That map is transmitted to the surgeon's laser. The surgeon then uses the map to reshape your cornea in a more customized manner, maintaining the best quality of vision in dim lighting, as well as reducing the incidence of halos and glare.
With the IntraLase Femtosecond (FS) Laser, the surgeon can now use tiny beams of laser light which for appropriate candidates can enhance the safety and accuracy of your procedure. This allows the surgeon to perform "all laser LASIK," using 2 different lasers for the 2 steps of the procedure: the femtosecond laser to make the flap, and the excimer laser to contour the cornea's curvature, adjusting its focusing power. The process can be up to 100 times more accurate, results in fewer complications and allows patients a higher degree of comfort.
IntraLase allows us yet another degree of accuracy and safety. Because of its accuracy, it allows us to treat a broader range of people including those who, because of the thickness of their corneas, weren't good candidates for the traditional LASIK procedure.
Am I A Candidate?
One of our experienced optometrists will give you a comprehensive eye exam to determine if you are a good candidate for LASIK eye surgery or other vision correction services.
- To be eligible for surgery, you must:
- at least 18 years of age (preferably over 23 years old)
- Have stable vision for at least one year prior to surgery
- Have healthy eyes that are free of disease, scars, or optic nerve problems, retinal disorders and corneal abnormalities
- Be well informed about the procedure and have realistic expectations of the outcome
- Have good general health
- Have no auto-immune systemic diseases
- Have adequate tear film
- Not be nursing or pregnant
As is true of any medical procedure, laser vision correction involves risks. It is important that you understand the risks of this procedure before deciding if it is right for you. Some of the potential risks include:
- Night Glare — With present technology, most laser vision correction patients do not experience significant worsening of night vision or night glare. But, some patients may experience halos or star bursting following their procedure, especially if these are currently experienced with contact lens or glasses wear.
- Dryness & Fluctuating Vision — After LASIK, your eyes often feel dry during the first month after surgery. These symptoms are usually relieved with the use of artificial tears. If you have a pre-existing dry eye condition, please discuss this with us, as the symptoms may be more pronounced after the surgery. Generally, this resolves after a few months, as the cornea fully recuperates from the surgery.
- Infection and Corneal Flap Risks — The risk of eye infection is the greatest immediately following the procedure. Antibiotic drops help to minimize infection. Some patients may also develop problems following the LASIK procedure as the flap heals.
Please discuss all the benefits and potential risks with us. It is essential that you are well informed and have realistic expectations before proceeding with laser vision correction.