The cornea is a part of the eye that helps focus light to create an image on the retina. It works in much the same way that the lens of a camera focuses light to create an image on film. This bending and focusing of light is known as refraction. Frequently the shape of the cornea and the eye are not perfect and the image on the retina is is blurred (out of focus) or distorted. These flaws in the focusing power of the eye are called refractive errors.
There are three primary types of refractive errors: myopia, hyperopia and astigmatism. People who suffer from myopia (nearsightedness) have more difficulty seeing distant objects as clearly as near objects. People with hyperopia (farsightedness) have more difficulty seeing near objects as clearly as distant objects. Astigmatism is a distortion of the image on the retina caused by irregularities in the cornea or lens of the eye. Combinations of myopia and astigmatism or hyperopia and astigmatism are very common.
Glasses or contact lenses are designed to balance the eye’s imperfections. Surgical procedures aimed at improving the focusing power of the eye are called refractive surgery. In laser eye surgery, precise and controlled removal of corneal tissue by a special laser reshapes the cornea changing its focusing power and correcting the refractive errors that the person suffers from.
Laser Eye Surgery Prices
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When deciding if you want to undertake laser eye surgery, there are many aspects that you will need to consider before making your decision. we recommend that you go over the following factors first before making your choice:
- The risk – you must know that there is certain degree of complications occurring in a percentage of patients. If you are not a risk taker, then this procedure is not for you.
- Refractive instability – if you have changed your contact lenses/glasses prescription it is not recommended for you to undertake this procedure.
- Age – laser eye surgery can only performed on patients who are older than their mid-twenties.
- Diseases – if you suffer from diabetes o have fluctuating hormones due to some kind of illness, this procedure may not be adequate for you. Also, conditions such as autoimmune or immunodeficiency diseases can prevent proper healing after laser eye surgery.
- Medications – son medications can cause fluctuations in your eyesight and you’re more likely to suffer from refractive instability.
- Your lifestyle – if you constantly participate in contact sports (such as martial arts, boxing or wrestling) in which blows to the face a common, this procedure if not recommended.
A laser eye surgery usually takes less than 30 minutes. You will lie on your back in a reclining chair in an examination room containing the laser system throughout the whole procedure. A numbing drop will be placed in your eye while the area around your eye is cleaned.
A special instrument called a lid speculum will be used to hold your eyelids open. A ring will be placed on your eye and a very high pressure will be applied to create suction to the cornea. Your vision will dim while the suction ring is on and you may feel the pressure and experience some discomfort during this part of the process. A cutting instrument, called a microkeratome, is attached to the suction ring. Your doctor will use its blade to cut a flap in your cornea.
The microkeratome and the suction ring are then removed. You will be able to see, but you will experience erratic degrees of blurred vision during the rest of the procedure. The doctor will then lift the flap and fold it back on its hinge, drying the exposed tissue.
The laser will be positioned over your eye and you will be asked to stare at a light. Keep in mind that this is not the laser used to remove tissue from the cornea. This light is to help you keep your eye fixed on one spot once the laser comes on.
When your eye is in the correct position, your doctor will start the laser. The pulse of the laser makes a ticking sound and as the laser removes corneal tissue, some people have reported a smell similar to burning hair. A computer system controls the amount of laser energy delivered to your eye. Before starting the process, your doctor will have programmed the computer to vaporize a particular amount of tissue based on the measurements taken at your initial assessment. After the pulses of laser energy vaporize the corneal tissue, the flap is put back into position.
A shield should be placed over your eye at the end of the procedure as protection, since no stitches are used to hold the flap in place. It is important for you to wear this shield to prevent you from rubbing your eye and putting pressure on your eye while you sleep; it also helps to protect your eye from accidentally being hit or poked until the flap has healed.
Post-Op -After Surgery
Just after the procedure, your eye may burn, itch or feel like there is something in it. You may experience some discomfort, or in some cases, mild pain; however, your doctor may prescribe a mild pain reliever for you to feel more comfortable. Both your eyes may tear or water.
Your vision will probably be hazy or blurry. You will instinctively want to rub your eye, but you must refrain from doing so at all costs. Rubbing your eye could dislodge the flap, requiring further treatment. Additionally, you may experience sensitivity to light, glare, see starbursts or halos around lights, or the whites of your eye may look red or bloodshot. These symptoms should improve significantly within the first few days after the procedure. You should plan on taking a few days off from work until these symptoms subside. You should contact your doctor immediately and not wait for your scheduled visit, if you experience severe pain or if your vision or other symptoms get worse instead of better.
Your doctor should see you the first 24 to 48 hours after surgery and at regular intervals after that for at least the first six months. At the first postoperative visit, he/she will remove the eye shield, test your vision and examine your eye. Your doctor may give you one or more types of eye drops to take at home to help prevent infection and/or inflammation. You may also need to use artificial tears to help lubricate the eye. Do not resume wearing a contact lens in the operated eye, even if your vision is blurry. You should wait from 1 to 3 days following surgery before beginning any non-contact sports, depending on the amount of activity required, how you feel and your doctor’s indications.
To help prevent infection, you may need to wait for up to two weeks after surgery before using lotions, creams or make-up around the eye. Your doctor may advise you to continue scrubbing your eyelashes for a period of time after surgery. You should also avoid swimming and using hot tubs or whirlpools for 1 to 2 months.
During your recovery period, it is of utmost importance to protect your eyes from anything that might get in them and from being hit or bumped.
Before undergoing a laser eye surgery, you should carefully weigh the risks and benefits based on your own personal value system. The decision is, in fact, completely yours and you should not be swayed by your family/friends or doctor into undertaking a procedure you are not 100% sure of. Some complications that can arise with this treatment are:
- Loss of vision – some patients lose lines of vision on the vision chart that cannot be corrected with glasses, contact lenses or surgery as a result of treatment.
- Development of debilitating visual symptoms – some patients develop glare, halos and/or double vision that can seriously affect night-time vision. Even with good vision on the vision chart, some patients do not see as well in situations of low contrast, such as at night or in fog, after treatment as compared to before treatment.
- Under-treatment or over-treatment – you must keep in mind that only a certain percent of patients achieve 20/20 vision without glasses or contacts. You may require additional treatment, but additional treatment may not be possible. You may still need glasses or contact lenses after surgery. This may be true even if you only required a very weak prescription before surgery. If you used reading glasses before surgery, you may still need reading glasses after surgery.
- Development of severe dry eye syndrome – due to the surgery, your eye may not be able to produce enough tears to keep the eye moist and comfortable. Dry eye not only causes discomfort, it can also reduce visual quality due to intermittent blurring and other visual symptoms. This condition may be permanent. Intensive drop therapy and use of plugs or other procedures may be required.
- The degree of your refractive error – results are generally not as good in patients with very large refractive errors of any type. You should discuss your expectations with your doctor and realize that you may still require glasses or contacts after the surgery.
- Results may diminish with age – this applies for some farsighted patients. If you are farsighted, the level of improved vision you experience after surgery may decrease with age.