Advances in LASIK 2011
Ophthalmologists from around the world have spent years researching and perfecting surgical techniques to eliminate dependency on glasses and contact lenses.
The concept of corneal refractive surgery is to change the shape of the cornea so that images seen will be focused on the retina. There are two main types of laser refractive surgery -available in the United States: Photorefractive Keratectomy (PRK) and Laser Assisted In-Situ Keratomileusis (LASIK).
In PRK, the surface of the cornea is treated with a laser. The surface cells then heal over the treated cornea, usually in 3-5 days. While PRK results in more postoperative discomfort and slower visual recovery, it may be the better -refractive surgery option for many patients.
"LASIK was developed to give faster results with less discomfort," says Dr. Neil Griffin, corneal disease, LASIK and cataract specialist with Carolina Eye Associates. "Here, a thin flap of corneal tissue is created, gently lifted and excimer laser treatment is applied to the cornea below. The flap is placed back over the treated cornea. Originally, a blade was used to make this flap but the femtosecond laser has almost entirely replaced the older blade method.
"Both surgical options, PRK and LASIK, have their advantages and disadvantages," Griffin says. "The surgeon determines the most -appropriate procedure for each patient during the preoperative evaluation based on the glasses prescription, corneal tissue thickness and other factors."
Lasik has been available in the United States for more than 10 years. During that time, technology and experience have improved vision outcomes and the safety of the procedure.
Third generation lasers now provide customized treatments to reshape the cornea.
The incidence of glare and halos is now much lower with custom treatments, giving a higher quality of vision to LASIK patients.
While glasses are the safest method to correct vision, for many individuals, glasses are a significant inconvenience and may limit activities.
All surgical procedures have risks, including refractive surgery. Contact lens wearers can also have significant risks.
"The preoperative examination is critical to evaluate individual risk," Griffin says. "The degree of the refractive error, the eye exam and general medical health are important factors. Recent technological advances in corneal -imaging allow us to detect subtle findings that might increase risk for LASIK."
The American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery announced, worldwide, an average 95.4 percent of LASIK patients are satisfied with their new vision, according to the first review of the world body of scientific literature.
Griffin has provided medical and surgical care at Carolina Eye Associates, in Southern Pines, since 1994. He recommends that you ask your local eye doctor about refractive -surgical options.
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