Laser eye surgery: what’s involved and what are the benefits?

Having laser eye surgery is a very popular way to correct vision permanently, to reduce or remove the need for glasses or contact lenses.

It works by re-shaping the cornea with an excimer laser. You must be at least 21-years-old to be considered for laser eye surgery, and your prescription should have remained the same for at least two years1.

Types of surgery

Laser eye surgery

There are various types of laser eye surgery, and they are all used in slightly different ways. The type of surgery which is most suitable for you will depend on your vision. Different techniques are used to correct nearsightedness (myopia), farsightedness (hypermetropia) and astigmatism. The most common type of laser eye surgery is LASIK, which stands for laser in situ keratomileusis. 

This operation has been available since the 1990s and now more than 100,000 people in the UK have it done every year. It’s effective at correcting both long and short sightedness, but isn’t always suitable for high prescriptions. There is also wavefront-guided LASIK which can reduce the natural irregularities of the eye as well as correcting eyesight2

PRK (photorefractive keratectomy) and LASEK (laser epithelial keratomileusis) are two other slightly different procedures. PRK has been around longer, and was replaced by LASEK and LASIK, although it’s still used for low prescriptions. With LASEK, unlike LASIK, the surgeon doesn’t have to create a ‘flap’ in the cornea, which makes it a good option for people with thin corneas. It also leaves the cornea very stable, although the recovery time is longer2.

What’s involved?

LASEK tends to be associated with slightly more discomfort, usually for around 24 to 48 hours afterwards3. Most people are able to go back to work within a couple of days, and can return to driving around three days after surgery. You shouldn’t start driving again until your surgeon has confirmed that your vision has reached the safe standard for driving1.

What are the benefits?

Laser eye surgery is known to improve vision in the vast majority of cases, and around two thirds of people undergo the procedure don’t need glasses or contact lenses at all afterwards. One in three still need them some of the time, for example when driving at night. Treatment from laser eye surgery is permanent, although it can’t prevent the natural ageing process of the eyes2.

Laser eye surgery

What are the risks?

No surgical procedure is without risk, although laser surgery is considered a very safe operation. Each of the three types of surgery is equally effective and equally safe. Complications occur in less than 5% of cases, and you should make sure you talk through all the risks with your consultant. In extremely rare cases, damage to the cornea can result in degeneration or total loss of vision2.

Getting laser eye surgery

If you’re considering having laser eye surgery, you first need to have a consultation with an eye specialist. They will discuss your expectations for surgery with you and make sure you’re suitable for the procedure. This is a good opportunity to ask any further questions you have. After this initial session, you can book an appointment for the procedure itself.

To find out more call us on 0808 101 0337 or
make an online enquiry.

Sources

1https://www.bmihealthcare.co.uk/hospitals/bmi-southend-hospital/laser-eye-surgery
2http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Eyehealth/Pages/Lasers.aspx
3http://www.webmd.boots.com/eye-health/guide/lasik-laser-eye-surgery

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