Imagine waking up and not having to frantically search for a pair of glasses to start your day. But Dr. Singh, how is this possible since I’ve been wearing glasses/CL my whole life? Welcome to the world of corrective eye surgery. Corrective eye surgery? You mean LASIK, right? Yes, LASIK is one of the most commonly used procedures, however, others such as PRK, SMILE, ICL and RLE exist too. Let’s talk a little about these!
|1. LASIK (most common)||A corneal (clear front layer of the eye) flap is created, a special laser reshapes the cornea to fix the prescription and the flap is put back in place.|
|2. PRK (Photorefractive Keratectomy)||Similar to LASIK, however, there is no flap so the cornea must re-grow after reshaping. Ideal for thinner corneas and/or vocational/sports related restrictions with flap.|
|3. ICL (Implantable Contact Lens)||For higher near-sighted prescriptions, if laser correction is unsuitable, an implantable contact lens is placed inside the eye.|
|4. RLE (Refractive Lens Exchange)||This is cataract surgery, without necessarily the cataract. Ideal for presbyopes (reduction of vision at near).|
|5. SMILE (Small Incision Lenticule Extraction)||A newer, less invasive procedure. It is similar to LASIK but without the flap and instead, there is a small corneal opening.|
Above, I’ve given a very brief overview of these procedures, however, in order to know which of these work for you, it is best to discuss your unique situation with your eye care practitioner!
In the introduction, I was being a little overzealous, making it seem like anyone could do this. Not everyone is a candidate for such surgeries. The following is a list of general guidelines used to determine candidacy for laser eye surgery procedures, however, like I’ve said before, each person’s eyes are unique and the best scenario for you should be discussed with your optometrist:
- Age at least 18 years old
- Stable eye prescription for 1 year before the surgery
- Not currently pregnant/nursing
- Stable eye health (certain eye conditions such as dry eyes or infections may limit candidacy)
- Overall good health (certain pre-existing health conditions may limit your candidacy)
- Reasonable expectations (laser eye surgery most often results in being glasses free, however, a successful surgery can also mean being less dependent on eyewear, especially as we approach presbyopia)
So regardless of your age, ask your optometrist about whether laser eye surgery is for you!
Dr. Manvit Singh