Laser vision correction is used to correct both short-sight and long-sight conditions. The treatment itself only takes a few minutes to perform, as a cool laser beam gently reshapes the cornea of the eye to correct the patients vision, under a local anaesthetic. Examples of LVC include Lasik, Lasek & Wavefront.
Laser Vision Correction
Today, laser vision correction is one of the world’s most commonly performed elective procedures. Endorsed by the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), it is currently estimated that over 32 million procedures have been performed worldwide.
Laser vision correction involves precisely reshaping the cornea (the transparent window which covers the coloured part of the eye). The treatment is surprisingly quick and uses a cold, high-precision beam of light that is exactly programmed to remove a microscopic layer of the cornea which alters its curvature, thus shifting the focus of incoming light to the correct plane (the retina). This, amazingly, is a very effective approach to correcting vision and the aim of treatment is to totally eliminate, or reduce the need for glasses and contact lenses to correct vision.
There are two fundamental types of laser vision correction: LASIK and LASEK.
LASIK, or Laser Assisted In Situ Keratomileusis, is the most common form of laser vision correction and this is mainly due to the fact that because it is performed under a protective layer of corneal tissue, there is quicker healing and less risk of corneal haze and scarring. It is possible to treat a broad range of refractive errors with LASIK.
The procedure involves creating a thin flap in the superficial part of the cornea. The laser is then applied to the mid-corneal structure and the flap is replaced. The eye starts to recover immediately.
LASIK is a virtually painless procedure and the vast majority of patients will require only anaesthetic eye drops to numb the eye prior to treatment. Most patients will report no pain at all during the procedure, although some describe a mild feeling of pressure or vibration during the course of the procedure. Post-treatment, there may be mild discomfort, which is relieved by using the prescribed eye drops and by resting the eyes.
LASEK, or Laser Assisted Epithelial Karatomileusis is the main alternative to LASIK.
This is a surface procedure and involves preserving the thin corneal epithelium by lifting it from the surface of the eye before the laser is applied to reshape the eye. After the LASEK procedure, the epithelium is gently replaced back onto the surface of the eye.
LASEK is the procedure of choice if the cornea is too thin or steep for LASIK, or in cases where it may be difficult to create a LASIK flap.
Patients who have undergone LASEK, often find that their eyes heal more slowly than those who have had LASIK. They also often report more discomfort during the healing process for a few days after initial treatment. With LASEK, it usually takes a little longer to resume good vision, typically between four and seven days post-treatment but the final visual outcome for LASIK and LASEK remain very similar.