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Laser Vision Correction

Updated on March 11, 2013

For Over Fifty Years....

Vision correction procedures have made quite a few advancements over the last half century. Radial keratotomy, or RK, was one of the first refractive procedures performed in the United States, after intial problems involving posterior internal incisions where patients suffered from bullous keratopathy years after having the surgery, had been modified by Russian ophthalmologist Fyodorov.

Refractive surgery is usually considered to be elective and cosmetic. With the variety of surgical options available, more people are choosing corrective surgery over contact lenses. The only untreatable vision problem is currently presbyopia, the common problem focusing that most adults experience with aging.

Common Corrective Surgeries

Radial Keratotomy (RK)

Radial Keratotomy (RK), used in the United States Primarily used during the 1980s to correct nearsightednes, yet advances in laser vision correction procedures have made this type of corrective surgery virtually obsolete.

Photorefractive Keratectomy (PRK)

Photorefractive Keratectomy received FDA approval in 1995, and was the first laser vision correction procedure in which tissue was removed directly from the eye's surface to change the curvature of the cornea. LASIK is the most popular laser procedure today, yet PRK is still commonly used. PRK is also a safer procedure in situations in which a person's cornea is too thin for LASIK surgery.

Laser-Assisted in situ Keratomileusis (LASIK)

LASIK is performed with a microkeratome and an excimer laser. An ablation is precisely performed with the laser to cut tiny pieces of corneal tissue away and reshpe the eye. Nearsightedness usually worsens with age, making younger people poor candidates for LASIK until their vision has been stable for at least a year and no prescription changes have been made.

No matter which type of corrective surgery is right for you, the choice of surgeons is the most important part that you need to worry about, leave the type of surgery and its technical terms up to the professionals.

Choosing a Surgeon

Choosing an ophthalmologist is a very important decision, one that should be researched before having any type of eye surgery. If you aren't fortunate enough to already be going to a top ophthalmologist, check out a few things about your possible choices in a surgeon.

The first place to begin your search is amongst family and friends. Word of mouth can sometimes locate top surgeons right in your own area. Talking to your current optometrist is also a good place to get a reliable reference.

Once you have the name of your prospective ophthalmologist, you can check out their credentials through one of the following:

What to Expect

Before Surgery

Prior to the surgery, contact lens wearers will need to start wearing glasses for a recommended period of time before the initial appointment.

  • soft contacts: stop wearing lenses two weeks prior to your initial evaluation.
  • rigid gas permeable (RGP) & toric soft contacts: stop wearing lenses three weeks prior to your initial evaluation.
  • hard contacts: stop wearing lenses four weeks prior to your initial evaluation.

Contact lenses change the shape of the cornea, and can take up to several weeks after you have stopped wearing them for your cornea to assume its natural shape, and varies depending on the type of contact lenses you wear. In order for the surgery to be successful, the cornea must be back to its natural shape prior to surgery.

During Surgery

Surgery usually takes less than half an hour. You will lie back in a reclining chair in the procedure room. Expect a numbing eyedrop followed by thorough cleaning of the periorbital area, and a device, a lid speculum , is used to keep the eyelids held securely open.

After Surgery

You may experience some mild discomfort, burning, or itching after the procedure, and your vision will be hazy and/or blurry. These discomforts should lessen and go away after a few days. Notify your doctor if any of these symptoms worsen, instead of quickly improving.

Expect to have 1-2 or more eye drops to take home for administration. If you don't do well with self administration, I'm sure Rachel's Friends will help....

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