Laser Eye Surgery: What Does the Procedure Involve?

Laser Eye Surgery
Image courtesy of Serge Bertasius Photography at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

What Is Laser Eye Surgery?

Laser eye surgery is a domain of surgery that covers different types of procedures and it is also known as laser vision correction. These procedures are meant to correct any refractive errors that could affect the vision of a person. Refractive errors can also be corrected using eyeglasses, or contact lenses. Basically, refractive errors are related to the way the eyes are focusing light, but also to other types of problems.

Who Can Perform Laser Eye Surgery?

Laser eye surgery can be performed by an ophthalmologist in most cases, but there are some optometrists who are trained and licensed to perform this type of surgery. In order for a person to know if laser eye surgery is required, an optometrist can examine the patient’s eyes to detect any vision-related problems. Optometrists can diagnose refractive errors and can provide care before and after the operation. Optometrists can prescribe eyeglasses and contact lenses, but also provide vision therapy and low vision care.

Types of Procedures

Laser eye surgery can be of different types: LASIK, PRK, EpiLASIK and LASEK. The type of laser used for this type of surgery is called excimer laser and it was discovered in the eighties. It is used for all the types of laser eye surgery.

LASIK

The most common type of procedure is LASIK and it begins with making a thin flap with a laser in the cornea of the patient, for making corrections at a deeper level. The flap can also be created by using a blade, but laser is more precise. After making the flap, the doctor uses laser again to reshape the cornea.

PRK

This is a very common procedure (second after LASIK) and begins with removing some of the surface of the cornea or epithelial tissue. Compared to LASIK, PRK doesn’t involve making a flap. The eliminated tissue can regrow. PRK is best for patients who have a thinner cornea or for those who don’t want a flap to be created in their cornea. In the end, the cornea is reshaped using laser.

EpiLASIK

This procedure begins just like LASIK, with two differences: the created flap is thinner and it is only created from epithelial tissue. Once the flap is made, it is moved a bit in order for the doctor to have access to the stroma underneath, as it has to be reshaped. The epithelium flap is replaced and covered with a bandage for healing.

LASEK

The procedure resembles RPK and LASIK, with one small difference: alcohol is applied to the corneal epithelium. Cells from the cornea can be loosened by alcohol, for helping the doctor to remove them easier. They need to be removed for usinng the laser and reshape the stroma. A contact lens can be applied to replace the cells and letting the place heal.

Who Is Eligible for Laser Eye Surgery?

People who want to go through this type of operation must be at least eighteen years old. The reason is that the eyes of minors are still subject to change. This can happen even after eighteen years of age in some cases. Only a professional like an optometrist can determine if a person is eligible for surgery or not.

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