As laser technology develops, the ability to correct vision issues using laser surgery is also advancing. More and more people are choosing to have laser refractive surgery as a way to correct their eyesight. Although this surgery can allow the patient to see properly without the aid of glasses or contact lenses, the procedure is not guaranteed to be successful, and there are still risks involved.
If you are considering laser eye surgery, it is important that you take the time to research the risks involved, and do your own research on the procedure.
What is Laser Eye Surgery?
Laser eye surgery involves using a high precision laser to reshape the cornea, which is the transparent layer that covers the surface of the eye. There are a few different types of laser surgery available. LASIK (Laser In Siti Keratomileusis) is the most common form of surgery, and is used to correct both long-sighted and short-sightedness. During this type of surgery, the surgeon will cut and raise a flap of tissue from the cornea, and then use their laser to reshape the exposed surface. Once the vision has been suitably corrected using this reshaping technique, the cut flap is replaced.
Alternatively, PRK (photorefractive keratectomy) is used. In this surgery, the corner is reshaped without an initial flap of tissue being cut. Although this surgery has been used since the 1980’s, it is now mainly only used to correct low prescription vision issues.
LASEK (Laser Epithelial Keratomileusis) uses a similar technique to PRK, but the epithelium layer of the cornea is kept intact. Retaining this layer of the eye is thought to speed up the healing process and prevent post-surgery complications.
Which Type of Surgery to choose?
Although you will have a small degree of choice in what type of surgery you have, your choices can be limited by the work that needs doing. Your eye care specialist will be able to suggest which type of surgery would be best suited to correcting your vision issues.
Choosing a Provider
Laser eye surgery is not normally available on the NHS, so you will have to choose a private provider if you decide that you would be interested in exploring surgery as an option. All providers who are offering this type of surgery in the United Kingdom should be trained ophthalmologists. Check whether they have taken any additional qualifications in laser eye surgery.
Take the time to speak to your surgeon before you commit to any procedure, and use this opportunity to ask them questions about your potential treatment and recovery plan. You should be able to find out how often your chosen surgeon has experienced complications during the surgery, and what the main reasons for these complications were. Your provider should always make sure that you fully understand the risks involved with the procedure.
Whilst you may see health tourism packages on offer which promote trips abroad for inexpensive eye surgery, you are strongly advised to have the procedure done in the United Kingdom, if you do decide to go ahead. As some people are only too aware, should something not go right with the procedure and you feel you should be compensated, claiming for laser eye surgery compensation in foreign countries can become a legal nightmare.
What Risks are Involved in having Laser Eye Surgery?
If you have laser eye surgery carried out in the United Kingdom by a certified provider, the risk of complications arising from any surgery are always a concern, but it is important that you do understand these risks before you commit to having the surgery. For most people who do experience complications, the complications are minor and treatable. Experiencing dry eyes for a few months following the surgery is one of the most common complaints. This can normally be treated with artificial tears, and should lessen over time.
Patients who have had surgery to fix a higher prescription sometimes report seeing glare or a halo effect at night time (particularly when driving) for a few months after treatment. Severe loss of vision can happen, although it is very rare. The most common cause for vision loss is too much thinning of the eye wall. In these cases, the eye wall becomes unstable and damage related to the surgery can happen at any time.
Why Choose Laser Eye Surgery?
For many people, corrective solutions such as glasses or contact lenses are not ideal. Glasses cannot be worn in some circumstances, and limit the field of vision in others. Contact lenses require a lot of hygiene steps from the wearer on a daily basis, and some people do not like to touch their eyes. Other people simply cannot wear lenses because they irritate their eyes too much. If you fall into any of the categories above, laser eye surgery could be the right solution for your needs.
Depending on the type of laser eye surgery that you choose, patients may be able to return to work as early as two days after the procedure. Although surgery may have a high initial cost, if the surgery is successful it can save you money in the long run, as you will no longer need to spend money on new glasses, contact lenses and lens care solution.
Who is Laser Eye Surgery not suitable for?
Laser eye surgery can normally only correct vision problems such as long-sightedness, short-sightedness and some types of astigmatism. It cannot be used to treat age-related macular degeneration or any type of vision loss which is associated with cell death in the eye. Very high prescriptions have a lower success rate than those with less serious sight problems, because high-prescriptions involve more intensive reshaping work.
Qualified surgeons who are offering laser treatment should always assess each case on a case by case basis, and should consider the unique factors which affect each patient. Most surgeons require that the patient be at least 21 years of age at the time of their surgery, because the eye has stopped developing in most people by this time. Competent surgeons will also request that the patient’s prescription has been stable for the past two years. If your prescription has not stabilised, then your eyesight may continue to worsen again soon after the surgery has been completed.