Laser eye surgery gives exceptional results when performed by the right person in the right environment and with the correct technology. This procedure is a common one, with over 100,000 people undergoing it in the UK every year.
Laser eye surgery helps correct vision problems in people who no longer want to use contact lenses or glasses. Many professionals opt for laser eye surgery because they want to avoid the stress of using contacts or glasses.
What is laser eye surgery?
Laser eye surgery is a common procedure to correct long-sightedness (hyperopia), short-sightedness (myopia), and presbyopia. The procedure involves reshaping the cornea (the clear layer in front of the eye) with a laser. Reshaping the cornea helps the eye focus better, and this improves natural vision.
There are different types of laser eye surgery, and each slightly differs from the others. For example, in the LASIK procedure, the surgeon will reshape the cornea under a micro-thin flap madewith another laser called the femtosecond laser.
During laser eye surgery, the surgeon will apply anaesthetic eye drops to reduce pain and discomfort during the procedure, then insert a small clip to keep the eyelid open.
In Intra-LASIK or Lasik procedure, the surgeon uses the Intralase femtosecond laser to make a thin flap. Afterwards, the excimer laser will use iris registration technology to recognise and track eye movement. The surgeon will lift the flap and reshape the cornea. Lasik procedure on one eye takes less than seven minutes.
The Lasik procedure is painless, but some patients experience a little discomfort as the surgeon uses the Intralase laser to create the flap. After the Lasik procedure, some patients experience a stinging sensation for some hours.
There are different procedures, and the one used by the surgeon will depend on your vision problem. Below are procedures for the most common laser eye surgical procedures for different vision problems.
LASIK (laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis)
In the UK, LASIK is the most common laser eye surgery. It is suitable for correcting astigmatism, presbyopia, long and short-sightedness. This procedure is unsuitable for people with high prescriptions (above +5.00 or -8.00), but they can get alternative treatments such as implantable contact lenses.
During the Lasik procedure, the surgeon will create a small flap on the corneal tissue with an Intralase femtosecond laser then reshape the exposed tissue with the laser before replacing the corneal flap. As the surgeon reshapes the cornea, the flap will remain attached to the cornea like a hinge to allow repositioning the flap in the exact position, reducing the time needed for healing. The flap remains in place with the aid of natural suction.
PRK (PhotoRefractive Keratectomy)
PRK was available before LASIK but is now used for correcting vision problems in people with low prescriptions.
During the procedure, the eye surgeon will completely remove the epithelial layer to expose the cornea, unlike LASIK, which requires a flap. The eye surgeon then uses a laser to reshape the exposed cornea.
PRK recovery time is longer than Lasik eye surgery recovery because it takes a while for new epithelial cells to regrow on the eye surface. Healing from PRK usually takes between 5 – 7 days.
LASEK (laser epithelial keratomileusis)
Lasek eye surgery involves Lasik and PRK procedures. It can correct mild to moderate myopia and astigmatism. Like PRK, it involves removing the epithelial cells, but instead of removing them completely, the surgeon creates a flap, like the corneal flap made in Lasik eye surgery.
After creating the flap, the surgeon reshapes the cornea, then repositions the epithelial tissue and fixes a bandage contact lens on the eye to keep the epithelium in place until it heals.
Before and after laser eye surgery
Before your laser eye surgery, you will visit your eye surgeon for a consultation. During the consultation, the surgeon will do the following;
- Carry out a thorough eye examination
- Check if you are the right candidate for the procedure and discuss your treatment options
- Talk you through the benefits of the procedure, its side effects and risks
- Allow you to ask questions
- Discuss your expectations before, during, and after the procedure
If you use contact lenses, you would have to stop wearing them for at least one week before your laser eye surgery consultation and four weeks before the consultation for hard lenses.
The day before the procedure
On the day before your laser eye surgery, you should do the following;
- Avoid wearing make-ups, using perfumes, lotions and creams because they can interfere with your surgery
- Arrange your transportation from the clinic after the procedure. This is important because you will receive a sedative that hinders you from driving.
After laser eye surgery, you may experience mild pain or discomfort,making you want to rub your eyes; however, resist the urge to touch your eyes because it can dislodge the corneal flap.
The pain or discomfort will subside after a few hours. Although recovery from laser eye surgery is quick, try taking one or two days off work. Your eye doctor will also prescribe eye drops to reduce inflammation and prevent infection.
You may also need to use artificial tears to lubricate your eyes during the healing period. If you experience redness, decreased vision, or severe pain, ensure you contact your doctor.
If you have vision problems and need improved vision without using contacts or glasses, visit The LASIK for a laser eye surgery consultation or call 020 71833622 to book an appointment with our eye surgeon.
How long does the effect of laser eye surgery last?
Laser eye surgery is a corrective treatment that gives a permanent result. In most cases, patients have complete stable vision after the procedure. However, the eye changes over time due to the presence of crystalline lenses in the eye.
Form about 40 years, the eye changes and most people need reading glasses. New laser treatments like the Supracor Lasik is available for correcting reading vision problems in people who previously had laser eye surgery.
Are there health risks of laser eye surgery?
Laser eye surgery is safe,and complications rarely occur. Before the procedure, your eye surgeon will evaluate your suitability for the procedure, explain its benefits, risks, and what you should expect.
Side effects may occur after the procedure, and they include:
- Halos around lights, but they subside within a few days to a week, depending on how fast the cornea heals.
- Dry eyes – it is also temporary
- Infection – this occurs in less than 1% of people who undergo laser eye surgery
- Over-correction, regression or under-correction may require a touch-up or enhancement at about three months
What are the benefits of the procedure?
The following are some benefits of laser eye surgery;
- Short recovery time
- Immediate result
- Quick and painless treatment
- No need for contact lenses or glasses afterwards
- Permanent vision correction
- Allows you to engage in active sports and physical activities