Laser vision correction has become one of the most transformative and revolutionary eye procedures in recent times. Using laser technology, it is now possible to correct common vision problems such as nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism with remarkable accuracy and minimal discomfort. In this article, we explore the history, science and benefits of laser vision correction treatments and discuss who is a suitable candidate for these procedures.
The Dawn of Laser Vision Correction
The development of laser eye surgery can be traced back to the 1960s when scientists began experimenting with lasers to reshape the cornea. However, it wasn’t until the 1980s that laser technology advanced enough to be used for clinical applications. In the early 1990s, the excimer laser procedure known as photorefractive keratectomy (PRK) was approved for treating nearsightedness. PRK removed tissue from the surface of the cornea to alter its shape and focus. Later, another procedure called laser in situ keratomileusis (LASIK) was developed that used a microkeratome device to create a corneal flap. This allowed the laser to reshape the inner cornea and healed more quickly than PRK.
As laser precision and safety improved, the ranges of vision problems that could be addressed expanded significantly. Today, laser eye surgeons can reliably treat nearsightedness (-0.75 to -10 diopters), farsightedness (+0.75 to +4 diopters) and low to moderate amounts of astigmatism using advanced excimer laser systems and femtosecond lasers. Procedures have also been refined to offer tailored treatments depending on an individual’s unique vision needs and corneal properties.
How Laser Vision Correction Works
All laser vision correction procedures work on the same basic principle of reshaping the cornea using precise pulses of ultraviolet laser light. Here’s a brief overview of how the two main procedures function:
– LASIK: A femtosecond laser creates a thin flap in the cornea which is lifted back. An excimer laser then reshapes the corneal tissue underneath to alter its refractive power. The flap is repositioned and heals quickly.
– PRK: In this “flapless” procedure, the outer corneal layer is removed and the excimer laser reshapes the corneal surface based on a patient’s prescription. Healing takes slightly longer than with LASIK.
By selectively removing tissue, the excimer laser can flatten or steepen the central cornea to effectively reduce or increase focal power. This allows the eye to bring images into correct focus on the retina without dependency on glasses or contact lenses post-procedure. Modern treatments can achieve clear vision within a day.
Potential Candidates for Laser Eye Surgery
In general, laser vision correction is considered for adults over 18 years whose vision has stabilized and have lesser degrees of nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism. Specifically, the best candidates typically meet the following criteria:
– Prescription has not changed significantly in the past year
– Healthy eyes without diseases like cataracts or glaucoma
– No underlying autoimmune issues impacting wound healing
– Realistic expectations about results and touch-ups if needed down the line
Careful screening evaluates corneal thickness, eye dryness risks and ability to heal. Those with significant vision problems or thin corneas may be outside safe treatment ranges. Your eye surgeon can determine if you fall within appropriate parameters after examination.
Benefits of Laser Vision Correction
For suitable individuals, laser eye procedures deliver life-changing benefits compared to glasses or contact lenses. Some key advantages include:
– Clear unaided vision immediately or within a day in most cases
– No dependency on glasses or contacts whenever activities like swimming or contact sports are performed
– Dramatically improved quality of life without the hassles of cleaning, caring and replacing vision aids
– Minimal discomfort and essentially no pain during laser treatments with modern equipment
– Fast recovery times allowing quick return to work or other responsibilities
– Long-lasting results for over a decade in most people
– Cost of one-time procedure compares well against decades of replacing glasses or contracts
– Less prone to complications and higher safety profile compared to older refractive surgery options
While results may not be perfect or “20-20” in all cases, laser vision correction delivers functional vision freedom for eligible patients through a minimally invasive outpatient procedure. It remains one of the most transformative elective operations available today.
Alternative or Combination Treatments
For borderline cases or multifocal vision issues, doctors may recommend alternative refractive surgeries like conductive keratoplasty (CK), intracorneal ring segments (ICRS) or lens replacement options. Some surgeons also combine treatments – for example, doing LASIK followed by a lens implant later in life for presbyopia or reading vision concerns. Ongoing advances are further widening the scope and efficacy of vision correction capabilities.
Post-Procedure Care and Risks
While laser eye surgery goes smoothly for the vast majority, proper post-procedure care and follow-up are essential for optimal healing and results. Temporary side effects like mild stinging, light sensitivity or dryness are common initially. Serious risks, though rare, include infection, permanent vision loss or need for enhancement procedures. Selecting a highly qualified and experienced surgeon minimizes potential issues. Long-term risks are exceedingly low in successful cases.
Through its refined technique, precision equipment and demonstrated ability to transform patients’ lives, laser vision correction has established itself as the forefront refractive surgery choice. Where it allows the production of clear and functional vision, free of spectacles or contact dependence, laser eye procedures are unparalleled in their results. With continued advancement, ever more individuals stand to benefit from this remarkable technology and the freedom and independence it confers. For properly screened candidates, laser vision correction represents an exciting opportunity to perform vision correction that was not possible before.
- Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
- We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it