Laser eye surgery
What is laser eye surgery?
Laser eye surgery is a procedure that involves using a laser to reshape the front surface (cornea) of your eyes to enhance their ability to focus. Laser eye surgery can correct far-sightedness, short-sightedness, and astigmatism.
Laser eye surgery is a good option that can spare you the inconvenience and limitations of wearing eyeglasses or contact lenses.
How does laser eye surgery work?
There are three main types of laser eye surgery: LASIK, SMILE, and surface laser treatments. All these procedures use lasers to change the shape of the cornea – the clear layer that covers the front of your eye. This allows your eyes to focus on images properly, and correct myopia (near-sightedness) or hyperopia (far-sightedness). Laser eye surgery can also help improve age-related hyperopia – although it cannot treat it completely.
All three types of laser eye surgery have similar results. Your ophthalmologist will give you a clear idea about your options and help choose the one that would be most beneficial for you.
Am I a suitable candidate for laser eye surgery?
Laser eye surgery may be a suitable option if you:
- Are over 18 years old
- Are in good health
- Have a stable eye prescription that has stayed the same for about 2 years
What happens during laser eye surgery?
Laser eye surgery is performed as an outpatient procedure, which means that you can have the surgery and go home the same day. The surgery itself usually takes about 30 minutes. The surgeon will ask you to lie in a reclining chair. They will put local anesthetic drops in your eye to numb it and use a special clip to keep you from blinking during the procedure. It is normal to feel anxious, and your surgeon will talk to you at every step of the procedure.
Your surgeon will also ask you to look at the target light during treatment. This is to help keep your eyes in place.
The method of performing the procedure will depend on the type of laser surgery you are going to have.
- In LASIK, your surgeon will use two lasers, one to open a thin flap at the surface of the cornea and the other to reshape the cornea below it. The protective flap is then smoothed again and stays in place without stitches.
- In surface laser treatments (PRK, LASEK, and TransPRK), the clear layer covering the cornea is removed so that the surgeon can reshape the cornea with the laser. These treatments differ in how the top layer of the cornea is removed.
- In SMILE, the surgeon will use a laser to remove a small piece of corneal tissue through a small incision.
What happens after laser eye surgery?
You will be able to go home after the surgery, but you will need someone to drive you. Your surgeon may recommend that you wear a plastic shield over your eyes at night for the first week or so to protect you from rubbing your eyes. Your surgeon will also prescribe you eye drops that contain antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medications to help your eyes heal, and artificial tears to keep them comfortable. Make sure to take them as directed and follow any advice your surgeon gives you.
Recovery time depends on your surgery – you may be able to return to work and drive the day after LASIK, but it may take a few weeks with other procedures.
Your vision will likely become stable within a few months after surgery. However, it may take longer in some cases.
Are there any risks involved?
About 1 in 10 people who undergo laser eye surgery need another surgery to obtain the best possible results.
Common side effects include:
- Dry eyes. It can be improved by using artificial tears that can help with this, and your eyes will feel comfortable again in about 3 to 6 months.
- Visual disturbances, such as glare or halo effects. These usually resolve or can be successfully addressed.
- Red marks on the white of your eyes. these always fade within about a month.