Laser eye surgery is a form of refractive surgery performed to correct hyperopia, astigmatism, and myopia. These are spectacle errors found in people with uncorrected or impaired vision.
By 2011, more than 11 million patients had undergone laser eye surgery in the U.S.; by 2009, over 28 million surgeries had been performed globally.
An ophthalmologist performs laser eye surgery using a microkeratome or laser to reshape the cornea and improve the patient's visual acuity. Most patients who undergo the procedure receive a permanent alternative to wearing contact lenses or eyeglasses.
The procedure involves three main steps where:
- The ophthalmologist creates a lean flap in the cornea’s surface layer and sets it on the side.
- They’ll then reshape the bare area using precisely targeted laser pulses. The laser is guided by sophisticated algorithms to remove tiny corneal tissue amounts from various positions of the cornea that were pre-determined. This will correct the overall curvature of the cornea.
- Once done, the flap will be put back into its initial position, re-attaching onto the eye’s as it heals.
This procedure has helped correct many patients' far and near-sightedness, enabling them to see clearly (20/20) without wearing spectacles.
It is a quick and painless surgical procedure that takes about 10 to 20 minutes. A numbing drop is administered to lessen the pain. Vision recovery is often rapid, with patients reporting vision acuity within 24 hours.
Through a technique known as mono-vision, laser eye surgery can minimize the need for contact lenses in patients aged 40 and above who use bifocals.
Candidates for this type of surgery are those over 18 years with healthy eyes and adequate thickness in their cornea. Corneal disease, chronic dry eye, and other abnormalities can disqualify one from the surgery.