Which Laser Eye Surgery Is Right For Me?
For anyone wanting to rid themselves of the burden of wearing glasses or contact lenses, laser eye surgery offers a fast, effective solution. Visual freedom is now possible thanks to our ophthalmologists and some incredible advancements in technology.
For those of you considering a laser eye surgery procedure, you may be wondering which means of vision correction offers the best outcome. The answer is a little more complicated than you might expect — and it will all depend on your individual circumstances including your prescription, lifestyle factors and eye condition.
While one laser eye surgery procedure may work for some patients, it may not offer the greatest outcome for others. There are three primary laser vision correction methods used today; these include PRK (which is now referred to as ASLA), LASIK, and the latest addition, SMILE. All three variations are performed on the cornea, and all have proven effective in correcting common refractive errors such as short-sighted vision (myopia), long-sighted vision (hyperopia), and astigmatism.
Although the overall approach to correcting vision may be different, all procedures use two different advanced lasers (excimer and femtosecond). Your eye specialist will closely examine and test your eyes to determine which procedure offers the best solution for you to see outstanding, clear results for your vision.
But how do PRK (ASLA), LASIK and SMILE all differ from each other? Here’s a helpful guide to the current laser eye surgery procedures available to you, and how you can put an end to glasses and contacts for good:
PRK (photorefractive keratectomy) was the first treatment available to correct vision; the procedure is what’s known as a surface treatment. PRK has since refined itself in recent times with a name change and procedural makeover. Eye specialists now refer to this method by ASLA (advanced surface laser ablation) to coincide with the advancement of its former practice.
By removing the surface layer of cells (the epithelium), your ophthalmologist is able to reshape the more permanent layer underneath. A bandage contact lens is then temporarily inserted for 4 days. Once the layer has had time to heal, the new and improved corneal shape will allow for clear, functional eyesight and the freedom to carry out your regular activities.
For those of you who suffer from mild dry eye, PRK or ASLA may be the better procedure for you. This treatment is often recommended for patients who possess thinner or irregular shaped corneas, but still wish to see the full benefits laser eye surgery has to offer. Your eye specialist may also recommend PRK if you have a low prescription level.
This highly accurate procedure has been refined in recent times, operating with the highest level of predictability and safety. ASLA doesn’t involve the creation of a flap, which can lower the risk of complications for some patients.
Although visual acuity is excellent once the layer has had enough time to heal, recovery is considerably longer than with LASIK and SMILE. There is also a good chance patients will experience some discomfort in the immediate postoperative period, along with a week of eyesight rehabilitation.
Today, LASIK (laser-assisted in-situ keratomileusis) is the most widely performed treatment for correcting a refractive error. The procedure is characterised by creating a flap on the surface of the cornea; a method backed by results, offering suitable vision correction for a broad prescription range.
By creating a tiny hinged flap, your surgeon is able to remove the thin layers of the exposed part of the cornea and improve the shape. After the laser treatment has been applied, the corneal flap is then brought back over the eye, acting as a natural bandage. The ultra-thin edge of the flap heals swifty after surgery, returning to its original position. Resuming your day-to-day activities comes with very little down time; you can now enjoy visual freedom and clarity almost instantly.
LASIK covers a broad prescription range, so it’s suitable for most patients looking to correct long-sightedness (hyperopia), short-sighted vision (myopia) and astigmatism. It is not suitable for those with unusually thin or irregular shaped corneas.
Clear vision with noticeable results is achieved within hours after surgery, and with minimal postoperative discomfort. Patients can resume their usual activities much faster than with other procedures, and are often able to return to work in under 24 hours.
There is some risk of flap related effects, with the potential to cause or increase dry eye symptoms in some patients. If this is the case, you may not qualify for LASIK.
SMILE (small incision lenticule extraction) is the latest advancement in laser eye surgery, and has expeditiously proven itself as the procedure of choice for those who qualify due its optimal safety profile. SMILE is a minimally invasive technique which doesn’t involve creating a flap in order to reshape the cornea.
SMILE is the first flapless laser vision procedure of its kind, using an accurate femtosecond laser to create a small disc shaped piece of tissue (also known as the lenticule) within the cornea. The removal of the lenticule thereby changes the shape of the cornea. The procedure is gentle, with a swift recovery time; providing patients with vision that’s impressively sharp, boasting long-term results.
SMILE is an ideal treatment for patients with higher prescriptions, and thin corneas. It is often the procedure of choice for those looking to correct short-sighted vision (myopia) or astigmatism.
The surgeon is able to remove a precise amount of tissue with this approach to laser vision correction, which means the incidence of side effects such as dry eye is significantly minimised; and thus, SMILE is an attractive procedure for mild dry eye sufferers. Postoperative discomfort is rare and the treatment offers long-term satisfaction by retaining maximum corneal strength due to minimal tissue intervention.
SMILE is only capable of correcting short-sighted myopia or astigmatism due to its limited prescription range. It is currently unavailable to long-sighted hyperopia patients.
All three procedures have a significant role to play in correcting vision for our patients today. Eye and Laser Centre offers a free laser vision assessment, where one of our expert eye specialists will determine which procedure is right for you. Call (07) 5555 0800 or fill out one of our online forms to book an appointment.