New horizons in corrective eye surgery could provide a fresh perspective for your future
By David Buice
After years of wearing glasses or contacts, it’s possible that you’ve considered putting them back into the bedside table for good—and electing to go ahead with some type of vision-correcting surgery. The truth is that there’s no better time than now, because there are now several different surgical procedures, most of which focus on reshaping the cornea—the transparent front portion of the eye that refracts light, accounting for about two-thirds of the eye’s total optical power.
Perhaps the three most popular options PRK, LASIK, and SMILE. All three are safe and effective ways to correct your vision, and each merits consideration.
PRK (Photorefractive Keratectomy)
Often considered the first generation of laser eye surgery, in this procedure the surgeon removes the outer layer of the cornea and then uses a cool excimer laser to reshape the layer to correct your vision.
PRK can be used to treat nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism, and is a good option for patients with thin corneas or those suffering from chronic dry eyes.
Recovery may take up to six weeks for complete healing and the return of clear vision.
LASIK (Laser-Assisted Stromal In-situ Keratomileusis)
Considered to be the second generation of laser eye surgery, today it’s the most commonly performed laser eye procedure.
The surgeon uses a femtosecond laser to create a small flap of corneal tissue that is folded back, and with an excimer laser reshapes the underlying corneal tissue to correct your vision.
LASIK can treat mild to moderate nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. Since a flap is created during the procedure, a certain amount of corneal thickness is required, and those with thin or irregular corneas may not be candidates for LASIK.
Most patients will see an improvement in their vision within the first two days, but complete healing can take up to six months.
SMILE (Small Incision Lenticule Extraction)
SMILE represents the third generation of laser eye surgery, and unlike PRK and LASIK it does not involve the use of an excimer laser. Instead, the surgeon uses a femtosecond laser to remove a small amount of corneal tissue, which allows the cornea to reshape and improve your vision.
Recovery takes only one to two days, but SMILE’s primary downside is that it can only be used to correct certain types of nearsightedness.
Though vision surgery can have a huge impact on your quality of life, in the end choosing a corrective surgery for your vision should be a shared decision between you and your eye surgeon. Talk about advantages, disadvantages, and recovery—and if it seems like it’s right for you, go for it! You might find you end up with a whole new way of looking at the world.