With decades of laser eye surgery behind us, most people accept the procedure as being safe and very beneficial in achieving perfect or near-perfect vision without the use of glasses or contacts. However, one of the things about laser eye surgery that still gives people pause is the fact that it’s…well…surgery. While laser eye surgical procedures have certainly come a long way since the first surgeries were performed with manually operated lasers in pop-up mall kiosks, questions remain about the technologies, risks and outcomes. And there are still ‘late adopters’ who won’t opt for any procedure until any risks are virtually eliminated. Read on to find out what we already know about laser eye surgery, and where it’s headed.
Refractive surgery has already had its share of breakthroughs
As in the case of most surgeries, although millions of people have already experienced good refractive error correction results from laser eye, the operation continues to be refined and perfected. As it stands now, conventional laser eye surgery corrects nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism, three very common forms of refractive error. In Canada, there are two kinds of commonly practiced procedures: LASIK, whereby a flap is cut in the cornea to remove tissue layers beneath, and PRK, which removes tissue from the top down to reshape the cornea and correct vision. The latter version is more typically employed for those with higher prescriptions and higher levels of astigmatism.
Later breakthroughs to the basic technology have included:
- Wavefront Technology, which uses 3D measurements of the eye’s surface to better direct the laser’s path as it corrects vision
- ReLEX SMILE (refractive lenticule extraction-small incision lenticule extraction), which reduces risks of corneal damage because it doesn’t cut a flap in the cornea
- A move from broad to narrow beam lasers, which has improved accuracy and reduced risks related to flap-cutting in LASIK
- The range of prescriptions that can be corrected has increased, and even presbyopia (which causes people to need reading glasses as they age) can often be corrected with laser eye surgery
- Laser blended vision has been developed as a procedure for people whose only eyesight concern is that they require reading glasses. The quick procedure heals in just a few hours.
Still to come to the world of laser eye surgery
Despite all the advances that have been made in laser eye surgery technology, there is still room for growth in the field. At present, certain patients are not suited for the surgery; those at the extreme high end of the prescription range and people with chronic conditions such as dry eye, are not considered good candidates. As well, there is the risk of regression, which could necessitate another corrective surgery. Currently, there are also some side effects such as poor night vision, corneal infection, and weakening of the cornea that researchers are working hard to reduce or eliminate altogether in order to make laser eye surgery more accessible to all.
Are you considering whether laser eye surgery might be a great way to free yourself from dependence on glasses and contacts? Come to Toronto Eye Care for an eye exam to determine your suitability for the procedure. We’ll recommend the right specialist to make your dream of perfect vision a reality.
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