Laser Eye Surgery: A Special Report
It would be great if vision were perfect and 20/20 were the only way that you could see but that is not the case. Some people are born with less than perfect vision and need correction to see in 20/20. As we age, visual acuity lessens and we don’t see as well as we used to.
The body may get older, but vision is still important to live a full life. in fact, problems with vision can lead to all sorts of other issues in your life. wouldn’t it be nice if there was a way to correct the vision problems of the world in a more permanent fashion so that it wasn’t a problem anymore?
We don’t live in a perfect world but now your vision can be on the level of perfect. This all comes with the advent of laser eye surgery. It is a way that those who want to have another option for their vision needs can experience life without glasses or contact lenses or other vision aids.
In this report you will learn all about laser eye surgery. We will discuss the process, how you know if you are a candidate for the procedure, what you need to know before surgery, care afterwards, benefits and risks of the procedure. If you have ever considered a different life through your eyes, let’s go.
The Structure of the Eye
Let’s begin at the beginning. The eye is more complex than it seems. People refer to the eyes as “windows” but they operate much like a camera.
In a camera you have a lens, an aperture for light and film that records the image so you can see a picture. The eye works kind of the same way. The clear covering on the eye is the cornea. It acts like a lens, envisioning what we see in as clear a picture as possible.
The pupil acts like the aperture in the lens. It lets in just the right amount of light so that the picture is not overexposed with too much light or underexposed with lots of darkness. Once the image passes through the aperture, it is focused on the back of the eye on a tissue layer called the retina.
The retina contains rods and cones to interpret the image. It turns the image that you see into a message or recording that the brain can understand and sends it on to the optic nerve. Now, you can actually “see” what you are looking at. It sounds slow but it all happens in seconds.
With laser eye surgery you are dealing with the cornea, the lens of the camera. It is due to the shape of the cornea that determines how the resulting image is focused on the retina and turned into an image.
In an eye that sees in 20/20 vision, the cornea is rounded so that the light rays that produce the image that we see focuses on the back of the retina where light sensitive cells interpret the image and send it to the brain. But, there are eye conditions in which the image is fuzzy and unclear to the naked eye causing issues that need to be corrected.
The cornea is more rounded than normal in a nearsighted individual. The eye is long and the light bends as it passes through the cornea causing the image to focus in front of the retina. This results in being able to see objects that are close to you but not those that are far away.
The cornea is less rounded and almost flat in a person who is farsighted. The eye tends to be short and this bends the light so that it focuses on a point that is behind the retina. The result is that you are able to see objects that are far away but not those that are close to you.
This condition affects the surface of the eye and may be present with either the myopic or hyperopic eye. Here, because of the surface of the cornea, light doesn’t enter the eye at one point and focus on one point on or near the retina. Instead, it is skewed so that it makes more than one point of contact – in front of the retina, behind the retina and/or any point in between. The image is distorted.
The first vision aid and still the tried and true tool are glasses. Lenses are created depending on the person’s vision deficiency to account for those issues and correct the image so that vision is 20/20. With glasses, the problem always was that only so much vision correction could be done. To achieve 20/20 for someone with really poor vision, lenses used to be thick as Coke bottle bottoms and almost as heavy.
In addition to that, peripheral vision was a problem. This is the visual field to the sides of your eye. It may not be so important to you when you are standing still or watching television but as a driver on the road, peripheral vision is a necessity.
With the creation of contact lenses, people had another option for seeing better. This was great for someone with myopia or hyperopia. They could wear thinner soft contact lenses to correct their vision. A corrective lens that fit over the cornea was great for peripheral vision.
The downside involved how well the eye could breathe. Contacts were removed each night for cleaning so deposits wouldn’t build up underneath and lead to an eye infection. For people with astigmatism, the only option was rigid lenses that were harder to put in and not so comfortable.
But, contact lenses have improved over the years. Now, people with astigmatism can wear soft lenses and gas permeable rigid ones are seldom if ever used. Soft lenses have gotten thinner and more breathable so that they can be worn for weeks at a time without being changed.
Before there was laser surgery there were still corrective surgeries done to help improve vision and reduce the dependence on corrective visual aids like glasses and contact lenses. We would be remiss if we didn’t start with the beginning of corrective eye surgery.
Radial Keratotomy (RK)
To reshape the cornea, it has to be flattened or rounded so that the light rays are focused directly on the retina. This takes precise measurements. Many tests were taken so that the surgeon knew exactly what needed to occur to have the best outcome.
A sharp knife known as a keratome was used to make radial slits in the cornea. Depending on the depth and placement of the cuts, the shape of the cornea was changed. The procedure didn’t take long but the outcomes were not all the same.
What is laser eye surgery?
There is now a procedure (actually it has been around for some time but has been perfected up until now) that can be used to change the shape of the lens (cornea) so that the image that you see is focused on the retina leading to a 20/20 image. This is done in lieu of glasses and contact lenses.
A laser is used to make the cuts that were once made by hand with a keratome. Just like RK, the purpose of the surgery is to permanently change the shape of the cornea.
The most common laser eye surgery is LASIK. It stands for Laser-Assisted In Situ Keratomileusis. The procedure takes about five minutes per eye and the laser does most a good portion of the work. Best of all, laser eye surgery is an outpatient procedure. You can have the surgery done and begin to see better all in the same day without a lengthy hospital stay.
Here is what happens when you have the laser eye procedure performed. A topical and/or oral anesthetic is given to reduce pain and discomfort that may be experienced during the surgery. A device placed on the eye keeps it from moving when the cuts are made.
A flap is cut in the cornea either using a small knife called a micro-keratome or the laser is programmed to make the three-sided cut. The flap is folded back so the inner layer of the cornea can be accessed. The laser is programmed to reshape the cornea according to the pre-surgical testing done by the surgeon. When the laser is finished, the flap is replaced and acts as a bandage over the eye.
Both eyes are normally done at the same time. Afterwards, you may be prescribed eye drops for a time but there is usually not any pain involved.
The most common laser used for laser eye surgery is the excimer laser. There are different models of the laser. Some practices have more than one laser depending on the types of eye problems that they handle in their offices and also if the doctor makes the initial surgical cut or if the laser does all the work.
Before anything is done you will go in for a free consultation. The doctor will ask you questions do a complete medical history and examine your eye to see if you meet the requirements for LASIK laser eye surgery.
This is good news for people who are nearsighted, farsighted or have astigmatism. LASIK works well for these conditions or any combination. But, this is not the only qualification.
Usually other laser eye surgery is recommended for people who have:
Previous refractive surgery (such as RK)
Your doctor will also examine your eyes for cataracts, glaucoma and other eye illnesses that can alter the shape of your eye or are contraindicated for the procedure. Another question will involve your eye glasses or contact prescription. If it has changed at all in the past year before the surgery your doctor may postpone surgery until it has been consistent for 12 months.
There are other conditions that may not disqualify you for laser eye surgery but will postpone it. this includes: pregnancy, diabetes, eye injuries, certain medications or other medical conditions.
Your doctor will also discuss benefits and risks with you when you are approved for surgery.
Laser Eye Surgery Benefits
If you have every worn heavy glasses or uncomfortable contact lenses then you know what it is life to see at a price. Laser eye surgery reduces all of that for you to a quick, pain-free procedure.
The number one benefit is clearer vision without the need for glasses and contact lenses. You can stop spending money on other visual aids. The cost of the procedure evens out when you think of the money spent on those items over the years or in the future. If your eyes have changed or gotten worse over the years with the use of glasses, your vision will now be consistent at 20/20 with the surgery.
Another benefit is the lack of discomfort. With glasses there are the telltale marks on the nose from the pressure of the lenses. Some people have irritation behind their ears from glasses being too tight. The procedure is relatively painless and a few ibuprofen can take care of any discomfort you feel afterwards.
There are different types of laser procedures that can be used to alter the shape of your cornea. Certain conditions like thin corneas make it a risk to do conventional LASIK surgery. Another procedure may be better for you:
* Conductive Keratoplasty
* Custom LASIK surgery
It is important to follow all of the doctor’s instructions after the surgery. Your vision will improve right away but your doctor might not want you using your eyes so soon after surgery. This includes having a friend or family member to drive you home or wearing dark glasses for a while. When you get home, it is important to take it easy and avoid strenuous exercise and even work for a couple of days until the eye has started to heal. It is important to avoid rubbing your eye so that you don’t dislodge the flap or do any other type of damage to the eye so soon after surgery.
Before you agreed to the surgery, your doctor discussed the risks of it with you. they are slim with laser surgery but they still exist and are worth mentioning so that you are making a thoroughly informed decision about your vision.
The intended outcome is to shape your cornea so that you are seeing 20/20 which doesn’t usually need any type of visual aid to enhance it. but, sometimes, that can’t be achieved. You may not quite reach that visual level. Your vision will still be clear but you may need to wear reading glasses.
Depending on your age, you may encounter presbyopia, which is a decrease in visual acuity that comes with age. having laser eye surgery doesn’t stop the normal aging process. Even though you have had your cornea reshaped, you may still need to wear contact lenses or reading glasses. Your doctor may even suggest a second surgery to correct for developing presbyopia.
Infections are not common with laser eye surgery but are a possible complication of most surgeries. Every precaution is taken to reduce that risk but it could still happen.
Night vision problems may be a result of the surgery. It is a possible consequence for those who have thin corneas but could happen to anyone. You may see halos at night or a noticeable glare when you are driving and you see bright lights. This can affect whether you can drive at night.
Dry eyes are also a problem that some people encounter. After the surgery, there seems to be a chronic dry eye issue that requires the use of eye drops to keep under control. If you already had dry eyes, precautions may be taken by your surgeon to prevent it from occurring after surgery.
All in all, laser eye surgery has changed the world of vision. What was once corrected by cumbersome glasses (even though they have gotten thinner) or contact lenses (they are better as well) can now be permanently corrected by a five minute surgical procedure. More and more people are considering laser eye surgery to give them a new lease and improve the quality of their life.
As with all surgeries, there are benefits and risks. Find a reputable surgeon who has performed hundreds of surgeries with great success. Be sure to ask about all possible outcomes so that you can make an informed decision. One way to reduce the risks is to follow your surgeon’s instructions to the letter. But even then there are no guarantees.