Corrective eye surgery The ABCs…

Corrective eye surgery
Corrective eye surgery is performed to repair the abnormalities in the cornea that cause a refractive error. There are different types of corrective surgeries that can give you the 20/20 vision. However, you first need to understand the definition and procedure of corrective eye surgery in detail to know more about its potential benefits and disadvantages.

What is corrective eye surgery?
Definition: Corrective eye surgery is any surgery that is done to correct, prevent or treat any type of refractive error. Most of the corrective eye surgeries are outpatient and take no longer than 1 hour.

When is corrective surgery done?
Most of the corrective eye surgeries are performed to correct or treat various refractive errors. The types of eye problems associated with a refractive error include farsightedness, nearsightedness and astigmatism (blurred vision). 

What are the types of corrective eye surgery?

LASIK Laser-Assisted in situ Keratomileusis or LASIK is the most frequently performed today. It is mostly reserved for the treatment of nearsightedness or, sometimes, farsightedness. In LASIK surgery, the surgeon creates a flap on the top of the cornea (with a blade or laser) to expose the tissue beneath. He then makes structural changes to the cornea (to reduce steepness) using an excimer laser. After the procedure, the flap is folded back into position and allowed to heal by itself.

PRK Photorefractive keratectomy (PRK) is a common vision correction surgery for patients with thin corneas or large pupils. It is pretty much similar to LASIK and is used to treat mild to moderate myopia (nearsightedness). It makes use of the same computer-guided excimer laser used in LASIK to make structural changes to the surface of the cornea. First, the top layer, the corneal epithelium, is removed. The cornea is reshaped, and then the epithelium is allowed to grow back. This surgery produces results similar to LASIK but is a surface procedure so it does not involve cutting a flap in the eye. The surgery can also be used to correct farsightedness, nearsightedness and astigmatism.

LASEK (laser epithelial keratomileusis)
LASEK is a newer type of PRK that removes the thin outer layer and replaces it on the eye's surface after the laser reshapes the cornea. This is more suitable when the cornea is too thin to create a flap for LASIK. It reduces the chance of complications that occur when the flap created during LASIK doesn't have the ideal diameter or thickness. However, patients who have LASEK surgery tend to heal more slowly and complain of more discomfort than patients who have LASIK.

Lens implantation (Refractive Lens Exchange)
It is a surgical procedure in which Phakic intraocular lenses (IOLs) that resemble contact lenses are placed either behind the iris or between the cornea and the iris. Once they are in place, the patient can't feel them and no maintenance is required. Basically the IOLs function like contacts, except that they are in the eye instead of on top of it. Surgeons may suggest this procedure if the patient has thin corneas or has myopia between -5.00 and -20.00 diopters. Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE) is like cataract surgery. However, instead of removing a cloudy lens, RLE replaces a faulty but clear lens with one that refracts light properly. 

Conductive Keratoplasty
This procedure utilizes radio frequency and a small probe (tinier than a strand of human hair) instead of a laser. A circular pattern of spots is placed around the cornea with low energy radio waves. The connective tissue that was hit with the probe then shrinks, effectively tightening up the cornea and making it steeper. The eye surgeon does not remove any tissue and the procedure takes only minutes. It is recommended for those who are older, to reduce their reliance on reading glasses.

Advantages of corrective eye surgery
Clearer vision: The number one benefit of corrective eye surgery such as LASIK is clearer vision without the need for glasses and contact lenses. If your eyes have changed or gotten worse over the years with the use of glasses, your vision will now be consistent at 20/20 with the surgery.

Comfort and ease: Another benefit is the lack of discomfort. With glasses there are the telltale marks on the nose from the pressure of the lenses. Some people have irritation behind their ears from glasses being too tight. Most corrective eye surgeries, however, are relatively painless and a few ibuprofens can take care of any discomfort you feel afterwards.

Speed: If you have every worn heavy glasses or uncomfortable contact lenses then you know what it is life to see at a price. Corrective eye surgery such as LASIK reduces all of that for you to a quick, pain-free procedure.

Convenience:Because eye surgery makes corrective lenses unnecessary, it broadens activity choices. Certain sports such as swimming can be done with less worry and hassle. Therefore, you gain more convenience in life.

Low costs:Costs vary, but corrective eye surgery generally costs about $2,000 for all laser-based procedures. The cost is closer to $1,700 for surgery that is not customized and involves a bladed instrument.

Disadvantages of corrective eye surgery
Imperfect vision:The intended outcome in a corrective eye surgery such as LASIK is to shape your cornea so that you are seeing 20/20 which doesn't usually need any type of visual aid to enhance it. However, sometimes, that can't be achieved. You may not quite reach that visual level. Your vision will still be clear but you may need to wear reading glasses.

Infection:Infections are not common with laser eye surgery but are a possible complication of most surgeries. Every precaution is taken to reduce that risk but it could still happen.

Presbyopia:Depending on your age, you may encounter Presbyopia, which is a decrease in visual acuity that comes with age. Having laser eye surgery doesn't stop the normal aging process. Even though you have had your cornea reshaped, you may still need to wear contact lenses or reading glasses. Your doctor may even suggest a second surgery to correct for developing presbyopia.

Night Vision:Night vision problems may be a result of the surgery. It is a possible consequence for those who have thin corneas but could happen to anyone. You may see halos at night or a noticeable glare when you are driving and you see bright lights. This can affect whether you can drive at night.

Dry Eyes:Dry eyes are also a problem that some people encounter. After the surgery, there seems to be a chronic dry eye issue that requires the use of eye drops to keep under control. If you already had dry eyes, precautions may be taken by your surgeon to prevent it from occurring after surgery.

Corrective eye surgery has evolved rapidly and is considered to be one of the most effective ways to eliminate the need for glasses or contact lenses. What was once corrected by cumbersome glasses or contact lenses can now be permanently corrected by a five minute surgical procedure. More and more people are considering corrective eye surgery to give them a new lease and improve the quality of their life. As with all surgeries, there are benefits and risks. You should find a reputable surgeon who has performed hundreds of surgeries with great success. Be sure to ask about all possible outcomes so that you can make an informed decision.

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