Laser Eye Surgery

The Emergence of Laser Eye Surgery

What is Laser Eye Surgery?

Laser surgery has been around for many years. More precise and accurate than a knife, a laser can be directed onto precise areas at very exact tolerances. Typically in the past, lasers were used for cutting major tissue, such as skin, and for treating malignant (cancerous) areas. However, as technology has improved, lasers can now be used for a host of other, more sensitive applications, such as brain or eye surgery.

Before the advent of newer technologies, such as LASIK, eye surgery was performed using a thermal (heat producing) laser. The surgery would involve the physical cutting of corneal tissue, in an effort to reshape it. Modern laser eye surgery, such as LASIK, involves the use of a cool light, ultraviolet laser to reshape the cornea without cutting or tearing.

This type of surgery carries with it much less risk than traditional thermal laser eye surgery, which carries with it the risk of accidental cutting, damage due to excessive heat, or operator error. It’s very hard to undo something that has been done with a laser, just as you cannot “uncut” something that has been cut with a knife. Fortunately, with LASIK this is not a problem, because of it’s non-invasive, cool light techniques.

Although LASIK is by far the most popular form of corrective eye surgery today, not everyone is a proper candidate for it, and there are several other forms of corrective eye surgery which may better suit certain candidates:

  • LASEK – this is used for people who do not have quite enough corneal material for LASIK to work properly. While the Eximer laser is still used, the flap is made in the eye differently. Other than this, the procedures are quite similar.

  • Epi-LASIK – this procedure is quite close to LASEK, in that the flap is made only in the outer part of the eye. However, with Epi-LASIK a cut is not actually made in the eye; a separator, called epikeratome is used which creates an epithelial sheet. This procedure, since it involves no cutting of the epithelial tissue whatsoever, generally causes much less pain during the procedure.

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