Although laser eye surgery can greatly enhance a person's life, deciding to undergo the procedure can be quite daunting. It is normal to be nervous before undergoing any form of surgery, but in the case of laser eye surgery the fear can be increased as patients are conscious during the procedure and under normal circumstances most people would be unwilling to allow a laser beam near such a delicate area of their body. Although nothing is likely to completely calm pre-operative nerves, educating yourself about what happens during the procedure can help build your confidence.
During surgery, patients lie in a reclining chair directly below the laser. To allow the surgeon to operate the eye lids are fixed in place with a metal ring. While this is not uncomfortable in itself, being unable to blink can be a little disconcerting for the patient. The eye is thoroughly cleaned and drops are used to anaesthetise the area. From the start of preparation time to the conclusion of laser treatment generally takes around 15 minutes.
In Lasik surgery, a small incision is made in the cornea to produce a small flap. This leads to vision loss for about 20 to 30 seconds. The laser – which is programmed before the operation starts – will then reshape the cornea. The procedure is not painful but can be quite unsettling due to the smell of burning that occurs when the laser comes into contact with the surface of the eye.
As complications can arise as a result of the incision, Lasik is considered the highest risk of the different forms of laser eye surgery, although it also has many advantages, for example a greatly improved recovery time. One of the problems which may arise during surgery is that the cornea may become washed. However, in most instances, the surgeon is able to reattach the cornea after treatment is complete.
Lasek varies from Lasik in that no incision is made. Instead, after the eye area has been prepared for surgery an alcoholic solution is used to soften the epithelium, which is then folded to one side to allow the laser to reshape the cornea. Once the procedure is complete, this will be pushed back into place. A contact lens will be placed over the cornea to hold the epithelium in place. This will need to be worn for several days.
In a small number of cases PRK is used instead of Lasek, particularly if the patient has an unusually thin cornea or large pupils. The procedure is very similar, but an excimer laser removes a thin layer of cells from the surface of the cornea and the eye is then reshaped to allow better focusing. This is not painful, although PRK often experience more discomfort than those under other forms of laser eye treatment. The protective layer of cells will grow back naturally in the weeks following surgery.
If you have concerns about laser eye surgery, or are anxious about what to expect, do not hesitate to contact the vision clinic. The staff will be happy to answer your inquiries and alleviate your fears.