Options for laser eye surgery
Today, it’s hard enough to choose what wine to drink and TV series to watch, never mind whether to have laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis or small incision lenticule extraction to fix your vision.
And to make things worse, we’re wired to weigh up every single option before making our decision. The marketing departments of high street clinics know this all too well, conjuring up names like UltraLASIK, Zyoptix, and Accu-wave LASIK to attract attention and bring more unknowing customers through their doors.
But just like different brands of cola, many of these treatments are simply the same thing with different names — a company’s ploy to stand out from the crowd. When it comes down to it, there are really no more than a couple of Laser Eye Surgery options that exist.
However, unlike reading the label on a drink to find out its ingredients, discovering what you’re getting with Laser Eye Surgery is not always so straight forward. Depending on which clinic you go to, there may be one or two to as many as a dozen treatment options, all with different prices, terms, and technology. Sticking with the metaphor, scouring the Laser Eye Surgery market for treatments is a bit like trying to do your food shopping in a foreign supermarket.
But, fortunately, to decide and understand the Laser Eye Surgery landscape, it’s nowhere near as difficult as learning a new language. Beneath every flashy-sounding procedure and fancy marketing campaign, there are only three treatment methods: PRK/LASEK, LASIK, and ReLEx SMILE.
PRK and LASEK are the oldest Laser Eye Surgery treatments. They’re what’s known as surface procedures, and instead of accessing the tissue of the corneal bed by creating a flap in the surface of the cornea (the epithelium), involve removing or displacing the whole layer of cells. Some surgeon’s prefer surface treatments, but most reserve this for patients who are unsuitable for LASIK.
After a surface procedure, it’s common for the cornea to take up to a week to fully heal. During this time the patient may experience some discomfort and mild irritation and somewhat blurry vision. A soft contact lens is worn in the initial days of recovery to promote the regeneration of epithelial cells.
If PRK/LASEK is the mother of Laser Eye Surgery treatments, LASIK is its proud offspring.
Most treatments available today are based on LASIK surgery, which is suitable for over 95 percent of patients and has a more favourable recovery process.
LASIK doesn’t involve disrupting the whole surface of the cornea. Instead, the surgeon uses a precision instrument to create a tiny circular flap. Through this window, they remove the corneal tissue before simply returning the flap back into its original position. Only the edges of the flap need to heal, and so the comfort and speed of recovery are significantly improved.
The latest and most advanced treatment to hit the scene, ReLEx SMILE represents the start of a new era of Laser Eye Surgery.
In SMILE, instead of creating a corneal flap to access the tissue underneath, a series of pulses are made using the state-of-the-art Carl Zeiss VisuMax laser. The surgeon then draws the tissue out through a small connecting tunnel – in other words, a keyhole form of LASIK. Due to its minimally-invasive nature, the procedure can be performed in minutes, the healing time is as fast as conventional LASIK, and vision quality reaches 100 percent in just a few days.
If you’d like to find out more about any of the Laser Eye Surgery options above, leave us a comment or contact us and speak with one of our friendly Patient Care Coordinators.