Laser vision correction is no longer a procedure for a brave few. That’s right – a million-plus Americans choose it each year, and it has a 99% success rate. More and more people are opting to ditch their glasses or contacts for the promise of clear vision 24/7, but it isn’t for everyone. We got the low-down on the different procedures and things to consider from Dr. Randall Fuerst, a VSP doctor in California.
Prime candidates for laser surgery are people who are nearsighted, farsighted, or who have astigmatism. But certain other conditions like glaucoma and cataracts rule out the procedure.
So what happens during the surgery? The surgeon uses a delicate FDA-approved excimer laser to delicately reshape the cornea, or front of the eye, so that light enters it correctly – thus fixing the vision problem.
Options to Meet Your Individual Needs
CustomLASIK is performed after the flap is made. With CustomLASIK, a customized map is created for each individual eye. This data allows for treatment on tiny imperfections in the eye that can have a significant impact on one’s quality of vision. Digital technology identifies and measures imperfections 25 times more precisely than
Conventional LASIK After the flap is made; Conventional LASIK uses a cool beam of light from the excimer laser to gently reshape the front surface (cornea) of the eye.
PRK: Like LASIK, PRK utilizes the excimer laser to reshape the curvature of the eye and treats nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism. PRK differs from LASIK as it is performed on the surface of the eye and no flap is created during the procedure. Most patients will benefit from Custom PRK, which provides your surgeon an additional level of data about your vision requirements using customized wavefront technology.
So, what steps should you take to decide if laser surgery is right for you?
“I always recommend that patients break the process down into stages,” says Dr. Fuerst. “First, assuming the patient is at least 18 and in good eye health, he or she needs to decide just how much they’re bothered by having to wear eyeglasses or contacts.
“Start by getting a thorough eye exam, then discuss the risks and benefits of the procedure with your doctor,” he continues. “If you decide the surgery is for you, your doctor can usually recommend a good surgeon. The final step is to go and talk with other people who’ve been through the surgery.”
One other point to consider, according to the doctor: “If you already wear bifocals that help you see up-close objects while also correcting your long-distance vision, it may not be possible to accomplish both tasks with laser surgery,” he says. “In these cases, which usually affect people over age 45, the patient may still need to use a pair of reading glasses after the laser surgery.
“In my own practice, I’ve discovered that many patients don’t mind this trade-off because they’re happy that they no longer need glasses or contacts to see well at a distance.”