A variety of vision correction surgeries
Before the 1950s, there were only eyeglasses for refractive vision correction. After a half century’s development and progression, currently there are also contact lenses and other surgeries that can be used to correct refractive errors. Refractive surgeries including LASIK and PRK use laser energy to reshape the curvature of the cornea, while artificial lenses achieve the effect of vision correction by refocusing light rays.
Abandoned Radial Keratomy
First introduced in the 1980s, Radial Keratotomy (RK) makes incisions to flatten the eye’s surface in order to correct myopia. However, RK has actually been abandoned because it may bring side effects such as night vision problems, glare, and regression and fluctuation vision.
Photorefractive Keratectomy for patients with thin corneas
Given FDA approval in 1995, Photorefractive Keratectomy (PRK) is now one of the common refractive surgeries. It changes the curvature of the cornea by removing some tissues. PRK has some advantages over LASIK. PRK can bring faster nerve regeneration than LASIK and thus reduce the risk of developing dry eye and other complications. PRK is also less likely to cause flap-related complications. And it is still more suitable for people with thin corneas.
LASIK has the widest application
Estimated to bring a similar outcome of PRK, LASIK is currently the most popular refractive surgery. LASIK can restore your vision much sooner than PRK, even within several hours after the procedure. The way in which the hinged flap is created over the eye’s surface classifies LASIK into several forms. LASEK creates a flap in the epithelium, while Epi-LASIK involves a special cutting tool in lifting the flap. Also called bladeless LASIK, All-Laser-LASIK uses another laser to create the flap. Brands of this form of LASIK include IntraLASIK, iLASIK and Zlasik. Another form of LASIK takes use of wavefront technology. Wavefront-guided LASIK can adjust more subtle vision errors. Receiving FDA approval in 2002, conductive keratoplasty (CK) uses a tiny probe and low heat radio waves to steepen the cornea.
Surgeries involving artificial lenses
Other surgeries involve artificial lenses in correcting refractive errors. Without affecting the natural lens, implantable lenses are the right choice for people with heavy myopia. Another non-laser procedure named refractive lens exchange removes a clear lens and replaces it with an artificial lens of different shape, which can correct hyperopia. Cataract surgery is also considered as a vision correction surgery, which removes the cloudy natural lens and implants a new lens so as to correct refractive vision errors.
How to make a right choice
With so many available refractive surgeries that are suitable for different vision conditions, it may be difficult to choose a right one. In general, children under 18 are not eligible to have laser vision correction due to their developing visual system. Pregnant women are also prohibited from receiving any form of vision surgery. Diabetes always affects wound healing, so that diabetic patients should choose PRK or LASEK, rather than LASIK. People with thin corneas should choose PRK, LASEK or lens implantation. In fact, individuals in their 20s and 30s are the best candidates for refractive surgeries.
Surgical solutions to presbyopia
Older people are likely to suffer severe vision problems, which require special surgeries. Monovision LASIK corrects one eye for distance vision and the other eye for near vision, which is one of the ways to correct presbyopia. Multifocal or accommodation IOLs are used to replace the natural lens during a refractive lens exchange or cataract surgery. These artificial lenses can restore normal vision at all distances. In most cases, severe nearsightedness or farsightedness requires lenses implantation.
More than one surgeries may needed in lifetime
Some people may even receive more than one refractive surgery during lifelong. For instance, a guy may have a LASIK to correct nearsightedness in his 30s and another conductive keratoplasty surgery to enhance vision when he is over 40. In some cases, vision correction procedures may cause mild to severe side effects. It is important to manage your expectation.
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