What is laser vision correction and how does is work?
Laser vision correction is a type of refractive surgery. The goal of any refractive surgical procedure is to reduce or eliminate the need for glasses or contact lenses. In laser vision correction procedures such as LASIK (Laser-Assisted In-Situ Keratomileusis) and PRK (Photorefractive Keratectomy) and EpiLASIK, a cool beam of laser light reshapes the surface of the cornea. The cornea is the clear ‘window’ in front of your pupil. Reshaping this surface allows images that enter the eye to focus properly on the retina (the sensitive layer of tissue lining the back of the eye that allows you to see objects and images). LASIK and PRK are both FDA approved for treatment of myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), and astigmatism (irregular corneal shape).
What is LASIK?
LASIK (Laser-Assisted In-Situ Keratomileusis) is a refractive procedure designed to reshape the cornea in order to eliminate or reduce a patient’s need for corrective lenses such as glasses or contact lenses. In LASIK a thin hinged flap is created in the cornea using an instrument called a microkeratome. The laser procedure is then performed under this flap on the underlayer or stroma of the cornea. The stroma is reshaped using a cool laser beam created by the excimer laser. Reshaping this surface allows light to be more correctly placed onto the retina. The hinged flap is then put back into place over the treated cornea and begins adhering immediately, so, there is no need for stitches.
What is PRK?
PRK (Photorefractive Keratectomy) is designed for the same purpose as LASIK. In PRK, the epithelium of the cornea is removed over the area being treated. The epithelium is the outer most layer of the eye’s surface. The laser then sculpts the surface of the cornea allowing light to focus correctly on the retina. The patient wears a bandage contact lens to help lessen the discomfort after the procedure as the epithelium grows back. This contact lens is usually removed 2-3 days later.
What is Epi-LASIK?
Epi-Lasik (Epithenial LASIK) is a refractive surgery procedure very much like LASIK. Epi-LASIK is an alternative for patients with thin corneas who would not otherwise be candidates for the conventional LASIK procedure.
The Epi-LASIK procedure uses a specific type of microkeratome, called the Epi-keratome. The epi-keratome precisely separates the thin epithelial sheet–much thinner than a LASIK flap—from the rest of the cornea. Once the epithelium is separated from the rest of the cornea, the thin sheet of epithelial cells is lifted to one side. After a laser is used to treat the cornea, the thin sheet is then moved back into place, where it will self –adhere. After the procedure, a bandage contact lens is placed on the cornea to promote healing. The reshaped cornea then focuses light more accurately on the retina.