How does Laser Eye Surgery work?

Laser Eye Surgery assessment

When you have a refractive error, light enters the eye and is incorrectly bent to meet at a finite point on the retina.

So, in a nutshell, what Laser Eye Surgery does is fix this by applying a laser to the surface of the eye to changes its shape and alter the curvature which causes the irregular bending. The result: light is now focused in such a way that it reaches the retinal plane in a very precise and proper manner.

Now here’s where it gets a little more interesting…

We know the main function of the eye is to focus light; uncoincidentally, much like the way in which a camera works to capture an image.

If you think of your eye as a camera, the cornea would be the lens system and the retina the strip of photographic film. The cornea, the transparent window on the surface of your eye, provides most of the focusing power. In perfect eyesight, it focuses light rays precisely onto the retina at the back.

Instead of ending up with a polaroid or digital image, the retina processes the light into impulses which are then sent through over a million nerve fibres to the optic nerve, resulting in your own unique picture of reality.

In perfect vision, light enters the eye through the cornea and is focused at a single point on the retina. Your eye’s internal lens system fine-tunes the light so you can see clearly enough to read small print and see objects hundreds of meters away in the distance. When you have a refractive error, light rays bend and don’t form a sharp, focused point on the retina. This is normally due to a problem with the length or shape of the eye.

Any operation that corrects the focusing of the eye is called refractive surgery. Laser Eye Surgery is simply a form of refractive surgery that uses a beam of ultraviolet light to reshape your cornea or, in other words, adjust your lens system. Altering the curve of your cornea allows light to be focused exactly how it should be on the retina.

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Altering the eye with Laser Eye Surgey is much like changing the lens on a camera

In the short video below, Mr Glenn Carp explains how Laser Eye Surgery works by changing the shape of the surface of the eye to alter the refractive error.

Laser Eye Surgery is the world’s most common planned surgical procedure. The most popular method of which is LASIK, a procedure carried out on more than 90% of Laser Eye Surgery patients.

To conduct the surgery a device called a microkeratome is used to create an incredibly thin flap in the epithelium (the skin of the cornea), about a tenth of a millimetre thick. The surgeon then lifts this corneal flap back on a hinge and uses the laser to sculpt the bed of the cornea, fixing any irregularity present. It can flatten the cornea to correct short-sightedness, make it steeper for long-sightedness, and create better symmetry to correct astigmatism. When the surgeon puts the corneal flap back, the eye takes on this new shape — just like how a camera accepts an upgraded lens.

With LASIK, the healing process following surgery is surprisingly short. In the vast majority of patients, the skin of the epithelium automatically seals the corneal flap within hours of surgery, so you definitely won’t need any stitches. Patients notice a significant improvement in their vision immediately — the “wow” effect — and most patients feel little or no discomfort as their eyes heal.

The rapid recovery time means most patients are back at work the day after Laser Eye Surgery and fully able to enjoy their superior view of the world through their brand new top-of-the-line HDSLR camera.

If you’d like to book a consultation at London Vision Clinic, or find out more about the procedure, leave us a comment or give us a call us on 020 7224 1005.


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