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Laser vision correction - LASIK, LASEK, PRK
















Eye surgery can improve vision

Aside from using glasses, vision can be corrected by a number of surgical means. Generally, laser is the most commonly used procedure, in which the shape of the eye is changed by a very accurate laser. Non-laser surgery may also be used in certain cases, such as an implantable lens being placed inside the eye to correct vision.


What are the commonest laser correction methods?

The most common techniques include:

  • PRK - this stands for 'photorefractive keratectomy'. The eye is carefully measured and mapped, then the procedure is performed under local anaesthetic (eyedrops). A special retainer is placed over the eye that keeps it open and still. Ultraviolet light is then used to precisely remove shaves of tissue from the eye, gently changing its shape. A contact lens may be put over the eye for a few days whilst it heals. You can then go home after the procedure, but shouldn't drive. It is best to rest for a couple of days, and you will probably need to use eyedrops for a few days or weeks. It can take 6-12 weeks for best vision to be achieved. Whilst your eyesight should be greatly improved, some people may still need to wear glasses, but at a lower prescription. Complications include seeing glares and halos when looking at bright lights (this often gets better within 6 months) and, rarely, vision being worse than before the procedure.

  • LASIK - this is more complex than PRK. The surgeon uses a very fine blade to make a cut on the eye surface and fold back a small flap. A laser is then used to remove underlying tissue. The flap is laid back over, covering the treated area. Recovery is usually faster than PRK, but still carries rare risks such as haziness of vision or dry eye. Some patients may also still require glasses, but at a lower prescription level. Not all people are good candidates for LASIK, and may be more suited to other treatments such as PRK.

  • LASEK - this is similar to LASIK, except that alcohol solution is used to lift the flap from the front of the eye, instead of using a blade. Recovery may be a little quicker than LASIK, although regaining optimal vision can take a couple of days longer.

With all these procedures you should not rub your eyes during the healing process, and should avoid strenuous activity and swimming until your specialist advises otherwise.


Which method is best for me?

This will vary according to your eyesight, eye shape, and personal feelings and preferences. Your specialist will be able to discuss options fully with you, and talk about pros and cons of each method.

Ultimately, laser eye surgery may be unsuitable for you and other procedures may be considered, such as implantable lenses.


Is laser correction permanent?

Once vision has been corrected, the effects can last many years. As we grow older, though, the eye changes and therefore further correction may be needed. For this reason, corrective surgery in under 18 year-olds is not usually performed as the eye can change greatly during childhood.



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Any procedure involving an incision can also result in unfavourable scarring, wound infection, or bleeding. This list of risks is not exhaustive, and you should discuss possible complications with your specialist. Whilst these risks will seem very worrysome, and indeed can be serious, it should also be borne in mind that many people have no postoperative problems whatsoever.

The information provided is for guidance only and you should discuss matters fully with your specialist before deciding if this is the right procedure for you. Please also read our disclaimer






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