Laser Eye Surgery EyeResearch.Co.UK
Laser Eye Surgery. Excimer laser techniques to correct myopia and astigmatism.
Risk and Side Effects
Phototherapeutic Keratectomy (PTK)

How do I know if I am a candidate for this surgery?

LASEK can be performed on persons with mild to moderate myopia (nearsightedness) and/or astigmatism or hyperopia (farsightedness). A myopic eye is one which can focus on objects close up, but objects in the distance appear blurry. A myopic eye is either too long for its focusing power or the cornea (the clear 'window' in front of the eye) is too steep. Astigmatism occurs when two corneal curvatures are unequal. A highly specialized device is used to make a detailed map of the surface of the eye prior to surgery. This topographical map is interpreted by the surgeon to determine how the Laser can best correct the patient's vision.

In a myopic eye (commonly referred to as "nearsightedness") light rays from objects are focused in front of the retina. This causes images, particularly at a distance, to be blurred.

In a hyperopic eye (commonly referred to as "farsightedness”, light rays from objects are focused in the back of the retina. This causes images, particularly close up, to be blurred.

Astigmatism is a condition where the front of the cornea is not uniformly curved, but slightly oval or "Rugby ball" shaped. As a result, rays of light that enter the eye are bent unequally and cause distortion of the image. Most people have some degree of astigmatism

How does the Laser correct my vision?

The cornea is responsible for more than 60% of our focusing and it is easily modified. The Excimer Laser flattens the cornea by essentially vaporizing a minute portion of tissue from the top surface of the eye to change the curvature of the cornea. The laser affects 20-80 microns (1 micron = 1 thousandths of a millimetre) of tissue, or 4 to 15% of the cornea, without disturbing any surrounding tissue or weakening the structure of the eye.

Is this a painful procedure?

The procedure itself is virtually painless. Prior to surgery, the drops are applied to the surface of the eye to numb it. Post operatively you will experience some discomfort, irritation, pain and photophobia for about two to three days.

How long does the procedure take?

The initial consultation and examination prior to surgery take approximately an hour. If you are a contact lens wearer, your lenses will need to be out for 1-4 weeks prior to this exam (Soft contact lenses for one week and GP lenses for four weeks at least). Duration of Laser treatment will last for 15 to 60 sec.

Do I need to take time off work?

Patients are advised to take at least three days off work and avoid strenuous activity after surgery. Time off work will vary on the individual and occupation. Individual assessment is required to determine the time needed for recovery. People undergoing bilateral laser, may need time off upto a week minimum especially if they drive.

What kind of vision can I expect with LASEK?

This depends largely on the amount of correction required. Vision is typically blurry in the first week following surgery, with the lower prescriptions gaining better vision more rapidly.

What are the risks?

Data gathered from studies do indicate that complications occur with the Laser procedure. However, as with all medical procedures there are always risk factors to be considered. The three main concerns with LASEK are infection, corneal haze and under or over correction. A superficial, transient corneal haze can be detected on some patients following surgery. This does not usually affect visual acuity. In most cases, the haze regresses within 6-8 weeks. The 'late' haze can appear after 6 - 8 weeks. Rare cases of persistent haze have been reported. Undercorrection or overcorrection can be treated with a retreatment procedure.

Will I need glasses in the future?

All patients who have both eyes treated will need reading glasses from around the age of 45, as do all normal sighted people on reaching this age. The majority of patients should not need glasses for distance vision again. Later in life there is a drift to long sight and glasses will be needed, especially for reading. Some short sighted patients in middle age choose to have only one eye treated or to leave one eye under-corrected. This is called mono-vision and involves treating the dominant eye for distance vision and using the untreated/under-corrected eye for reading. This proves to be very acceptable only for a few patients with mild short sight, avoiding the need for glasses for both reading and distant vision.

Can it go wrong?

No surgical procedure is 100% risk free and you should be aware of potential problems. Serious complications are very rare but do happen in all laser establishments in the world. The final outcome cannot be guaranteed and you must be aware that side effects can in some cases be permanent. The healing process differs from one patient to another. Whilst most patients are delighted with treatment, a small number of people may not achieve the result they desire.

When will I be able to drive?

Do not drive until you are completely comfortable. If only one eye has been treated this is normally possible after 3-4 days. For a small number of patients affected by complications the return to normal vision may be delayed. For bilateral treatment, allow upto 7-10 days before driving.

When can I return to sporting activities?

Once you have attended for your first check up you can resume all activities. You should avoid strong sunlight and dirty or dusty environments soon after the treatment. You should also avoid using suntan beds up to six months after treatment. Avoid swimming for a month as there is a risk of irritation and infection.

Laser Eye Surgery. Excimer laser techniques to correct myopia and astigmatism.