Though Lasik has only been used for a few decades, it is already becoming one of the most popular methods of treating eye abnormalities. Lasik can be used for a variety of eye issues, but it is most commonly used for these three procedures.
Classic Lasik Surgery
A basic Lasik surgery is the most commonly done optional surgery in the United States, and it is a very simple process that is typically done while you are awake. To prevent any discomfort, anesthetic eye drops are typically used.
The first step in basic Lasik is cutting a flap through the corneal epithelium which is the protective layer that covers the front of the eye. This flap can be cut with either a tiny metal blade or a femtosecond laser, and it is then folded back so that the middle section of the cornea is revealed. A computer guided excimer laser is then used to reshape the corneal stroma by removing tissue. Eye tissues are removed in very thin layers that are just micrometres thick to avoid overcorrecting the eye. The protective eye flap is then repositioned over the newly shaped cornea, and once the eye heals, vision is restored.
Wavefront-guided Lasik is a newer type of procedure, but it is also very popular because it helps to correct natural irregularities in the eyes. For many patients, wavefront-guided Lasik is a better choice because it tends to result in sharper, clearer vision.
In classic Lasik, ophthalmologists only apply a simple, single layer correction to the eye problem that does not vary along the surface of the eye. Wavefront-guided differs because it uses a correction that varies in thickness based on the shape of the eye. This tends to be more accurate because each eye is unique and often has tiny surface irregularities. However, it is important for this surgery to only be performed with top of the line wavefront sensors and perfect eye tracking equipment because if the wavefront guiding is even slightly off, it can cause eyesight to worsen.
Despite the fact that this is not a low-cost Lasik procedure, wavefront-guided Lasik remains one of the most popular types of Lasik procedures because patients are less likely to deal with halos, starbursts, or other vision irregularities afterwards.
You may have heard LASEK referred to as a type of Lasik surgery, but it is technically a slightly different procedure. This procedure also corrects the shape of the eye with a laser that vaporizes small amounts of tissue. However, it focuses on a different layer of the cornea, and one version of LASEK, called PRK, does not cut a flap before remodelling the shape of the cornea.
LASEK tends to have a slightly quicker healing time and less risks of flap complications, but it does not work on as many different patient types. LASEK is typically only recommended if a patient does not have severe eyesight issues. Patients who get LASEK tend to have more risks of developing eyesight problems later in life.
The Lasik Process for Myopia
A myopia correction is the most common reason that a patient needs Lasik surgery. Myopia causes nearsightedness, so farther away items will look very blurry if you have myopia. It happens when the eye’s length is too long in relation to the cornea’s curvature, so light rays that enter the eye are focused in front of the retina instead of being focused directly onto the retina like they should be.
Lasik is considered ideal for patients with up to 6 dioptres of myopia which is categorized as mild to moderate myopia. You might think that Lasik fixes this issue by making the overall eye shorter, but what it actually does is modify the curvature of the cornea so that it reflects light directly onto the retina.
The Lasik Surgery for Hyperopia
If you have hyperopia, you have essentially the opposite problem as patients with myopia. The eyeball is too short for the curvature of your cornea, so any light that enters the cornea will focus too far behind the retina. People with hyperopia can see far away objects easily, but close up objects look fuzzy or blurry.
The process for fixing hyperopia with Lasik is very similar to the myopia process, so it works by changing cornea curvature to reflect light properly. Patients with severe hyperopia may not be able to use LASEK or PRK methods.
The Lasik Procedure for Astigmatism
Astigmatism is a little different from other types of eye problems because it is not caused by improper focal length. Instead, the issue is caused by a cornea that is misshapen. Typically, the issue is that the cornea is somewhat oval instead of rounded, but astigmatism can be caused by other issues. This causes vision to look warped and uneven, and you may end up feeling like your vision is similar to something seen in a funhouse mirror.
Since astigmatism is a corneal issue, it can easily be fixed with Lasik surgery. During the Lasik procedure, the lasers will focus on reshaping the cornea into a more normal curve that does not distort light rays as they pass through it. Wavefront-guided procedures are ideal for patients with astigmatism since it provides a customized approach.
Possible Risks Associated With Different Lasik Procedures
Laser eye surgery is a great option for patients who want to correct their eyesight without wearing glasses or contacts, but it does come with some drawbacks. In general, there is an increased risk for dry eyes, infections, and night vision issues. At night, some patients may have trouble seeing or notice halos or starbursts around lights. Vision aberrations tend to be less of an issue with wavefront-guided Lasik. There is also a risk of flap complications or slips if the corneal flap does not heal properly, but this risk is significantly lower with LASEK or PRK methods of laser eye surgery.
As time progresses, vision can start to degrade again, but this can often be fixed with another surgery. Overall, the risks of Lasik are beginning to decrease as doctors perfect all types of Lasik procedures.
The Recovery Process for all Lasik Procedures
When patients are considering choosing between one of the three popular Lasik procedures, they normally focus on choosing a procedure with a short recovery time. Though Lasik surgery is not painful, the recovery process can be a bit uncomfortable. PRK and LASEK versions tend to take a little longer to heal because the outer layers of the cornea will regrow, but otherwise, recovery for all procedures tends to be the same.
Regardless of which procedure you choose, you should rest as much as possible and avoid bright lights after the surgery. You may need a bandage contact lense or special goggles to ensure that everything heals correctly. If your doctor advises you to take antibiotic eye drops, be sure to follow your ophthalmologist’s instructions. By being careful during recovery, you can ensure that you get the best possible outcome from your Lasik procedure.