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How Does Laser Eye Surgery Work?

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A woman undergoing eye surgery. Two perpendicular beams of light is flashed onto her left eye.

Glasses and contact lenses help bring a blurry world into focus, but not every patient wants to use them forever. Thankfully, laser eye surgery can help lower your reliance on corrective lenses.  

Surgery is a big decision, and your vision is precious, so learning about the laser eye surgery process can help you decide if this treatment is right for your needs.

What is Laser Eye Surgery?

Laser eye surgery is a type of refractive surgery used to correct vision problems such as: 

Your doctor improves vision by reshaping the cornea, the clear front part of the eye. Reshaping the cornea helps light focus properly as it enters the eye, landing on the retina instead of in front or behind.

How Does Laser Eye Surgery Work?

Laser eye surgery involves using a specialized laser to remove precise amounts of corneal tissue. Reshaping the cornea helps improve vision, lowering your reliance on corrective lenses.

While laser eye surgeries help reshape the cornea, your surgeon has different strategies to access the treatment area. LASIK (laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis) is a commonly referred surgery for many patients, and it has a straightforward process. 

During LASIK, your surgeon creates a thin flap in the cornea to access its inner tissue. They then lift the flap and use a laser to remove precise amounts of underlying corneal tissue. After reshaping the cornea, your surgeon returns the created flap to its original position, where it heals without needing stitches.

Who Is Eligible for Laser Eye Surgery?

Several factors can determine your eligibility for laser eye surgery. While you don’t need to be the perfect candidate, an ideal patient

  • Is 18 years or older
  • Has a stable lens prescription
  • Has healthy, thick corneas
  • Has a treatable refractive error

Each patient is different, so your eye doctor will complete an eye exam to determine your eligibility for surgery. While you may be unable to have one treatment, others may be ideal for your needs. Your optometrist will recommend the treatment they feel best meets your vision needs. 

What Other Types of Laser Eye Surgery Exist?

While LASIK is one of the most common laser eye surgeries, it isn’t your only option. Your eye doctor may recommend another form of surgery if you’re ineligible for LASIK or if there is a treatment that better suits your needs. 

Other types of laser eye surgery include: 

  • PRK: Photorefractive keratectomy has a similar process to LASIK. The main difference is that your surgeon removes the cornea’s outer layer to access the treatment area. This outer corneal layer (the epithelium) naturally heals after surgery. You typically wear a contact lens bandage to help protect your eye during recovery. 
  • SMILE: Small incision lenticule extraction surgery is a minimally invasive procedure that uses a laser to reshape the cornea. It can reduce the risk of complications associated with traditional LASIK procedures. 
An optometrist explaining a procedure to his attentive patient using the aid of a 3D model of an eye.

What Can You Expect During the Laser Eye Surgery Process?

Before the surgery, your eye doctor completes a thorough eye examination to determine your eligibility for treatment. This exam includes measuring the thickness of the cornea and the pupil, testing for refractive errors, and checking for other eye conditions. 

If your eye doctor does not perform your surgery, you will be referred to a trusted surgeon to handle your procedure. Laser eye surgery is an outpatient procedure, meaning you’ll head home the same day of your treatment. 

The surgery goes by quicker than you think—taking only about 10 minutes per eye. You may feel nervous about the procedure, but your surgeon is there to help keep you comfortable. 

Regular follow-up appointments are necessary to monitor the healing process and assess your vision. Your optometrist is here to support your recovery—they’re available to address any questions or concerns during the healing process.

Improve Your Vision with Laser Eye Surgery

Laser eye surgery is a safe and effective way for patients to improve their vision and quality of life. Remember to speak with your eye doctor if you’re interested in treatment—they can recommend the best way to improve your sight. Clearer vision can help you enjoy life’s moments without glasses or contact lenses. 

Contact Pacific EyeCare Optometry if you’re interested in laser eye surgery.

Written by Total Vision

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