Laser eye surgery is a great way to correct your vision and eliminate your dependence on glasses or contact lenses. Like all medical procedures, laser eye surgery provides benefits, but poses risks. Laser eye surgery is the most commonly practiced procedure to correct vision problems such as, myopia (near-sightedness), hyperopia (far-sightedness) and astigmatism. More recently, laser eye surgery has also been used to correct presbyopia which is part of normal aging and can also be corrected by using reading glasses.
To perform laser eye surgery, a surgeon uses a laser device to make permanent changes to the shape of the cornea. The laser used produces a beam of ultraviolet light to vaporize tissue. Surgically altering the shape of the cornea can correct mild to moderate refractive errors in most people.
PRK (Photo-Refractive Keractectomy) surgery is when a surgeon removes the outer layer of the cornea with a surgical blade or laser. The laser beam, guided by a computer, is then used to vaporize tiny amounts of tissue under the surface of the cornea. The procedure removes just enough tissue to reshape the cornea in a way that corrects your vision.
LASIK (Laser Assisted in situ Keratomileusis) surgery is more complicated. The surgeon first cuts a flap in the cornea with a very sharp blade or laser, that piece is then lifted and a computer-guided laser is used to remove a calculated amount of tissue from the inside layers of the cornea.
Some of the risks with laser eye surgery include:
- Pain or discomfort lasting for a few days, ranging from moderate to severe.
- Hazy vision during the healing process, which usually clears up within the first week after surgery.
- Regression, which in some cases can cause the eye to regress to its previous refractive error within about six months. If this happens you may need a second operation.
- Dry eyes.
- Poor quality of night vision due to halos and glare. Although this is a lot less common with advanced wavefront technology.
- A serious condition called corneal ectasia, which is a weakening and bulging of the cornea.