The appeal of laser surgery is obvious. Perfect eyesight without having to wear glasses or contact lenses. As well for reasons of aesthetics and convenience, it would also be pleasant to be able to see properly while showering, swimming or upon waking. However, surgery is never something to be taken lightly.
The Daily Mail published an informative article outlining of various types of laser eye surgery and who they best suit.
According to its report, EPI Lasik is a form of laser in situ keratomilieusis (Lasik) surgery and is the least invasive type of laser surgery there is.
Patients have their eyes anaesthetised before a thin layer of the epithelium - the thin layer of cells over the cornea - is separated from the surface before ordinary lasering and is said to be suitable for people with thin corneas. However, people who undergo this type of surgery may suffer blurry vision for a few months and it takes about three days for sight to come back to normal.
Most common is Lasik, used for about 70 per cent of laser surgery procedures. This involves cutting a flap in the top of the cornea after anaesthetic is applied to the eye, before lasering to change the cornea"s shape.
While not suitable for people who play contact sports or who have thin corneas and though it carries a risk of corneal scarring or weakening, vision returns quickly and recovery is swift when it is successful.
A more technologically advanced option is Wavefront, which uses computer software to scan the eye. This can help to identify small imperfections that are also affecting vision.
This is the ost expensive form of treatment and takes longer than usual because of the scanning. However, it is best for people required to have extremely sharp vision, especially in the dark. According to the Mail, astronauts and pilots are allowed to have only Wavefront laser eye surgery.
There is also photorefractive keratectomy (PRK) and laser epithelial ketatomilieusis (Lasek). They are similar, but in the latter procedure, alcohol is used to soften the epithelium before it is taken aside, lasering takes place and the protective layer replaced. Contact lenses are then worn while the epithelium heals.
With Lasek, the epithelium is not completely removed and so it takes less time to heal. However, it takes longer for proper sight to come back than with Lasik.
The paper also listed some questions provided by the Royal College of Ophthalmologists that should be asked before undertaking laser eye surgery.
These include finding out whether the surgeon has the organisation"s Certificate of Competence in Laser Refractive Surgery and how many people have needed further treatment.
by Adrian Galbreth