All About Refractive Surgery
Refractive eye surgery is a type of corrective surgery for the eyes in which a surgeon attempts to change the focusing characteristics of the eye by altering the shape of the cornea, implanting artificial lenses, or by changing the eye in other ways thereby achieving a clearer image. There are three forms of refractive surgeries that are performed regularly. They are:
- Radial Keratotomy (RK) is the oldest form of refractive lens surgery and is most commonly used to cure nearsightedness. In this procedure a scalpel is used to make between 4 and 8 tiny cuts, in the shape of wheel spokes, in the cornea that allows it to flatten and greatly reduce the focusing effect of light as it enters the eye.
- Photorefractive Keratectomy (PRK) is a much newer method and is used to treat nearsightedness and astigmatism. In this procedure a laser is used to remove the outer layer of the cornea and can be used to re-shape the cornea. Similar to RK, PRK refractive surgery flattens the cornea to reduce the focusing effect of light.
- LASIK, which stands for Laser In Situ Keratomileusis, is another laser procedure that re-shapes the cornea. Unlike PRK, LASIK refractive surgery cuts a thin flap in the top of the cornea which is folded back. While this flap is back, the laser is used to reshape the tissue of the cornea and then the flap is replaced.
Although all of the refractive laser eye surgery methods discussed are safe it is still surgery and therefore there are some risks. These risks can be broken down into three main categories: over or under correction, complications after the surgery, and damage to the eye. The most common of these risk is the over or under correction of the eye. Basically, this means that the focusing power of the eye is either too great or too small.
Luckily, this can be easily fixed by repeating the surgery. The second risk category, complications after surgery, can range from inflammation to infections to corneal scarring. Many of these refractive surgery complications are usually mild and will go away with time. However, some of them can be rather serious and a permanent loss of vision can result. The third and final refractive surgery risks category, damage to the eye, consists of the surgeon cutting too deep or not deep enough. A majority of the time damages to the eye are a result of an unskilled surgeon or faulty equipment. This is why it is extremely important to do your research before having a surgery of this magnitude.
So, how do you know if you should have refractive laser eye surgery? Well, the best way to make this decision is with
your doctor, however people who suffer from the following conditions would be considered good candidates: