Am I a Candidate for Refractive Surgery?
Refractive surgery is an effective solution to improve your vision when you have treatable eye conditions such as nearsightedness (myopia), farsightedness (hyperopia), age-related eye conditions, or astigmatism. Refractive surgery offers a variety of different procedures that correct the way your eye is focusing to achieve clear vision.
LASIK (laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis) offers one of the most common types of vision surgical procedures, along with PRK (photorefractive keratectomy), and CLE (clear lens exchange, which is also referred to as refractive lens exchange or refractive lensectomy). Any of these surgical procedures will reshape or augment the cornea using an excimer laser to allow for better focusing.
With these types of refractive surgery, the procedure ultimately changes the shape and/or structure of the eye to better project an image onto the retina, allowing the eye to focus correctly.
Is LASIK Eye Surgery Right for Me?
Laser assisted eye surgery (LASIK) is performed by an ophthalmologist and improves or corrects a variety of eye conditions. If you have farsightedness (hyperopia), nearsightedness (myopia), astigmatism, or age-related degenerative conditions (presbyopia), you could be a candidate. LASIK is also known as Laser Vision Correction and uses a laser to reshape the cornea in a way that improves or corrects vision.
The clear covering over the iris and pupil is called the cornea. A LASIK surgeon uses an advanced and specialized laser to excise a thin flap in the cornea. The corneal flap is then folded back, allowing the surgeon to access the underlying cornea. Another laser then reshapes the cornea so that light is refracted onto the retina in a way that allows the brain to see the image in focus.
LASIK isn’t a painful procedure and we give you medications to alleviate any discomfort after the procedure is finished. While feeling pressure is normal and can be strange, you shouldn’t feel any pain.
There are some risks involved in any surgical eye procedure and LASIK is no different. After surgery there may be some side effects or discomfort, such as a scratchy feeling, dry eye, hazy or blurred vision, impaired night vision, and sensitivity to light. However, many LASIK patients have a problem-free and rapid recovery.
It takes an eye surgeon about 20 minutes to complete a LASIK procedure in an outpatient setting, with a post-procedure exam the next day. Total recovery time will take a few more days.
Who Qualifies for LASIK Surgery?
Candidates for LASIK are adults over 18, not pregnant or nursing. LASIK patients need to be free of eye disease or infections, glaucoma, or keratoconus. A LASIK consultation will be completed by an eye care professional to determine the patient’s corneal thickness and appropriate surgical plan for best outcomes.
Patients can take our self test to determine if they may be eligible for LASIK.
Is PRK Surgery Right for Me?
PRK (Photorefractive keratectomy) employs a slightly different procedure than LASIK to correct a refractive error. First, the outer layer of the cornea (or epithelium) is gently removed. Then a precise laser (the same used in LASIK) is used to shape the cornea to focus light correctly on the retina. The eye will naturally grow the outer layer back over the following few days from surgery.
The procedure involves the patient focusing on a small target light for the surgeon to reshape the cornea properly. The surgeon uses a precision instrument to take eye measurements before and during the procedure in order to determine the new shape of the cornea.
The PRK procedure is performed in an outpatient setting in as little as 10 minutes followed by a bandage contact lens. The patient will rest one to three days without any strenuous activity. The patient should take care to avoid sun exposure in the first few days from surgery as that can damage the cornea. There may be some discomfort for a few days but medications are given to improve eye comfort. The surgeon will need to be alerted to any concerning symptoms until healing is complete. Usually the bandage contact lens is removed at a follow up appointment within one week from the procedure.
Who Qualifies for PRK?
Candidates for PRK are adults over 18, not pregnant or nursing, with stable vision prescriptions for at least a full year. The patient should be free of eye infections or eye injuries during the previous year, not be diagnosed with significant dry eye syndrome or keratoconus. The patient’s corneal thickness will be evaluated by the eye surgeon to ensure that PRK is the right solution for vision correction.
Is CLE Right for Me?
Generally older adults suffering from farsightedness or nearsightedness, who also wish to eliminate the need for glasses or contact lenses, are potential candidates for CLE (clear lens exchange). These are patients who may not qualify for LASIK or PRK, but CLE may be a better solution.
CLE is also known as Refractive Lens Exchange, whereby the surgeon exchanges (or replaces) the natural lens in the eye with a soft collagen based, flexible artificial lens. The new artificial lens is contoured in a precise way to correct any refractive errors and is a permanent solution, preventing cataracts.
After the outpatient procedure, it may take 24 hours for the patient to feel they can see more clearly. Lens replacement surgery, in many cases, significantly improves the patient’s eyesight where they can meet the driving standard of corrected vision without glasses.
CLE recovery times may be a bit longer than other refractive eye procedures, up to a full week. For patients who need both eyes completed, the surgeon usually recommends they are weeks apart.
Who Qualifies for CLE
The best candidates for CLE are generally over 40 years old with moderate to severe farsightedness (hyperopia), or patients under 40 with an unusually thin cornea. Patients who desire improved reading vision and reduced dependency on glasses or readers can also be good candidates.
Vision Correction Surgery May Be a Patient’s Best Solution
Eye surgeons will perform a comprehensive examination and consultation with a patient to determine what is the best course of action for optimal vision correction. ICON Eyecare surgeons are expert at determining eligibility for the best type of surgery for each condition. Pre-existing conditions like autoimmune diseases and rheumatoid arthritis may also determine candidacy for refractive eye surgery.
Many adults with blurry vision or diminished visual acuity may qualify for vision corrective surgery and be unaware of all the options. Active adults may enjoy the freedom of living with visual acuity with reduced dependency on glasses. There are so many options and a variety of surgical solutions that nearly everyone has choices to improve their sight.
An ophthalmic exam performed by a qualified medical eye specialist can help you determine any number of corrective measures. Contact the friendly team at ICON Eyecare in Grand Junction and set up a consultation to learn more.