What is it?
The Excimer Laser is the instrument that is used to reshape the cornea in Laser Eye Surgery. Depending on the exact refractive error [Link to new “Refractive Errors” guide page] of the patient, this is done in different ways.
In patients with short-sightedness (myopia), the Excimer Laser is used to flatten the central zone of the cornea. In long-sighted (hyperopia) patients, the central zone of the cornea is made steeper by removing tissue from the periphery.
When treating astigmatism, the Excimer Laser flattens or steepens the cornea in one direction (meridian) in order to make it more spherical.
The beam emitted from the laser will be a certain size and shape, depending on the treatment required. The point at which the laser touches the eye is called a “spot” – the smaller the spot, the more focused it is, creating a higher-intensity beam that moves around the eye at a faster rate and a more precise treatment.
Some excimer laser brands are Alcon, Bausch and Lomb, Nidek, Schwind, VISX, WaveLight and Carl Zeiss.
How Does it Work?
The Excimer Laser is an extremely high-precision sculpting tool that is used to change the focusing power of the eye. It does this by breaking carbon bonds in the corneal tissue, hence reshaping certain areas of the cornea.
For this part of the procedure, you will lay on the treatment bed and look into a flashing light. Your eyes will still be numbed from the anaesthetic drops that were applied before the use of the Femtosecond Laser in the previous step of the procedure.
In a matter of seconds, the Excimer Laser will move around your eye, removing the required areas of tissue to alter the optical focusing properties of the eye.
What are the Benefits?
The extreme precision of the Excimer Laser allows your surgeon to accurately correct the way the eye focuses. This makes for more successful procedures that can reduce, or often eliminate, the patient’s need for glasses or contact lenses.
Laser technology has come a long way over the last two decades, but finding an experienced surgeon who has the expertise to operate this technology to its best effect is critical to achieving the very best outcome.
What will I feel?
While you will hear the buzzing sounds of the instruments and you may see a “kaleidoscopic” light, you will not feel anything during this part of the treatment. Some patients report smelling a “burning” odour (similar to the scent sometimes emitted from a hairdryer). This isn’t actually the smell of anything burning, it is simply the smell of carbon bonds being broken in the corneal tissue.