Over the last few years, the world has seen an enormous increase in demand for refractive laser surgery. A relatively new surgical technique that uses lasers to correct refractive errors of vision, as these new techniques has provided an alternative for traditional glasses and contact lenses used to treat refractive errors, such as: myopia and hyperopia, and astigmatism.
What Is Laser Refractive Surgery?
Laser refractive surgery is a surgical technique in which a special cutting laser is used to redesign the shape of the cornea to correct problems of far-sightedness, myopia or astigmatism, which are collectively called refractive errors of vision.
In the normal vision, the cornea and the lens of the eye can focus light in proportion with the depth of the eyeball, meaning that light rays fall directly on the retina after going through the cornea and the lens.
What Are Refractive Errors?
Refractive errors occur when light goes through the cornea and the lens, but it does not focus properly on the retina which results in one or more of these problems:
Nearsightedness (myopia): In this case, distant objects cannot be clearly seen, because light entering the eye is focusing in front of the retina and not on the retina itself.
Hyperopia (farsightedness): in hyperopia far objects can be seen better than near objects, but the vision is generally blurry, and this occurs when the lens cannot adjust its focusing power or when the eyeball is short in length.
Astigmatism: in astigmatism the eye has difficulty focusing light on one point in the retina, so that things appear blurry from all distances, and this problem usually accompanies nearsightedness or farsightedness.
Presbyopia is an age-related change in the lens structures, usually begins at the age of forty, when the lens of the eye loses its ability to adjust its convexity due to its increased rigidity.
How Is Refractive Error Treated?
It is known that eye refractive errors have been traditionally treated with different kinds of corrective lenses, but this has changed with the emergence of laser refractive surgery as it offered a safe and reliable alternative to wearing eyeglasses and lenses.
There are different types of lenses and surgical techniques to be used in the treatment of refractive errors, these include the following
It is the old and traditional method for treating refractive errors in the eye, as a concave lens is used to treat nearsightedness to help focus light on the retina better. In cases of hyperopia, convex lenses are used to correct the refractive error, and cylindrical lenses are used to help in cases of astigmatism.
Laser eye surgery: These are surgical procedures that are performed using lasers to reshape the cornea, to correct refractive vision problems, such as near-sightedness, far-sightedness and astigmatism, to eliminate the need for glasses and contact lenses.
The type of surgery to be used to treat the refractive defect is chosen to accord with the patient’s problem and corneal measurements.
The selection of the right surgery for the right patient is considered the most important element for the success of the surgery, besides that the eye should be free of any problems other that refractive errors, and these refractive errors must show stability over time for a period that exceeds a year, all these factors play a part in how successful the surgery will be.
Some factors can make laser eye surgery inappropriate or contraindicated for some patients such as, some autoimmune diseases, chronic use of some medications, or dry eye.
Before the procedure, the surgeon assesses the patient's condition, considering the following points:
- General evaluation of the patient's health condition
- Slit-lamp eye examination
- Determining the corneal topography and thickness
- Fundus examination
- Assessing tear production
- Intraocular pressure measurement
What Are the Complications Of Laser Eye Surgery?
Eye laser surgery are categorized as safe procedures with few complications, as studies conducted to follow up patients have shown high patient satisfaction after the procedure, and most patients involved in these studies no longer needed to use glasses or lenses after the surgery.
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