Types of Laser Eye Surgery: Understanding Your Options

Did you know that in 2017, about 26.9 million American adults reported “having trouble” seeing? That’s despite the fact that some of them already wear glasses or contact lenses!

What’s more, up to 61 million U.S. adults are at serious risk of suffering from serious vision loss.

But there’s still some good news. Today, more types of laser eye surgery are available to correct vision problems. With more options available, you have better chances of being a good candidate for one of them.

Ready to learn more about what your laser eye surgery options are? Then read on as we’ll discuss everything you need to know about them in this post!

Photorefractive Keratectomy (PRK) Laser Eye Surgery

Before there was LASIK, there was PRK surgery, and it’s still a popular procedure to date. It’s a type of refractive surgery that corrects nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. It’s a good option for those suffering from mild to moderate cases of these vision problems.

Note that all laser eye surgeries involve reshaping the cornea, the outermost, clear part of the eye. Their differences lie in the part of the cornea the surgery affects.

How PRK Works

In PRK, it’s only the surface of the cornea that the surgeon uses a laser on.

The doctor first removes and discards the epithelium (corneal surface cells). Some PRK surgeons use an alcohol solution, while some use a blunt surgical device for this step. After this, the surgeon uses an excimer laser to reshape the cornea.

Although LASIK has become the dominant laser eye surgery, PRK is still a common procedure. This is especially true among patients with thin corneas or recurrent corneal erosion.

How Long the Procedure Takes

PRK surgery takes only about 15 minutes. It has a longer recovery period than LASIK though, as it can take several days for the epithelium to grow back.

Laser In-Situ Keratomileusis (LASIK) Eye Surgery

In the U.S., up to 800,000 people undergo LASIK eye surgery every year.

LASIK eye surgery, like PRK, also corrects nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. It’s different from PRK in that the surgeon creates a tiny flap in the cornea. Unlike PRK that removes the outermost layer of the cornea, the flap created in LASIK remains attached to the eye.

As for how long LASIK takes, most procedures take only about 30 minutes. This still depends on your specific circumstances though. However, many patients notice drastic vision improvements as soon as the next day.

Plus, there’s no need for stitches nor bandages with LASIK.

Also, LASIK eye surgery recovery usually occurs right after the procedure. You might have a hazy vision though, so it’s important to have someone drive you back home after the surgery. The surgeon will also ask you to come back the next day for an evaluation.

Today, you can choose to undergo either the traditional or bladeless LASIK eye surgery. We’ll discuss them in more detail below.

Traditional or “Bladed” LASIK Surgery

In traditional LASIK, surgeons make that flap with a small blade called microkeratome. After that, they use a laser to alter the shape of the cornea to correct the patient’s vision. This flap is then lowered to its original position after the surgery.

Although safe and effective, traditional LASIK may lead to “flap buttonholes”. This complication can occur due to an abnormal cut in the cornea during flap creation. Patients who developed it reported mild symptoms, including haloes and glare.

It’s a very rare abnormality though, with a 2010 study showing it only occurred in 0.47% to 1.7% of patients. LASIK technology has come a long way since then, which means there are even fewer risks that come with it.

In fact, a 2017 FDA analysis found that modern lasers used in LASIK had significantly improved. These innovations allowed for much better patient-reported outcomes after surgery.

Bladeless LASIK Eye Surgery

Bladeless LASIK is also known as “All-Laser” or “IntraLase” laser eye surgery. It can address the same vision problems as traditional LASIK.

The difference is that this type of LASIK surgery is completely bladeless. This matters to people with very thin corneas who once weren’t a good candidate for laser eye surgery. They may be more suitable for bladeless LASIK, as laser technology can create a more precise flap.

In bladeless LASIK, doctors use a laser instead of a blade to create that flap and reshape the cornea. The doctor then raises this laser-created flap to reshape the corneal tissue underneath. As with traditional LASIK, the flap is once again put back to its original location so it can heal itself.

iLASIK eye surgery is one of the more advanced types of bladeless LASIK. It involves capturing a WaveScan® WaveFront™ image of each of the patient’s eyes.

This technology allows the surgeon to create a three-dimension map of the eyes. The doctor can then customize the procedure based on the unique eye features of the patient. This ability to personalize the LASIK procedure increases outcome predictability and safety.

Get the Clear Vision You Deserve with the Best Laser Eye Surgery

There you have it, your ultimate guide to the types of laser eye surgery available today. It’s best to get your free LASIK consultation first so that you can determine if it’s the right procedure for you. Even if it’s not, an eye surgeon trained in laser eye surgery can help you decide on your best alternatives to LASIK.

Ready to enjoy your life fuller with better, clearer vision? Then please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us so we can help you improve your eye site!