For our eyes to see images the lens of our eyes focuses the image of what we see around us onto the retina in the back of the eye. Unfortunately, this lens can sometimes focus the light in front of or behind the retina. This leads to the conditions myopia (near or short-sightedness) or hyperopia (far or long-sightedness). Many people choose to wear eyeglasses or contact lenses for these conditions, but this does not permanently correct the problem with the lens. Laser eye surgery is one of the most popular ways to permanently correct these eyesight problems. Let’s take a look at how it works.
How does laser eye surgery work?
There are two main types of laser eye surgery; LASIK, LASEK (closely related to a very similar procedure known as PRK). Although these sound very similar there are some differences between these types of laser eye surgery. However, the goal of both types of laser eye surgery is to correct the shape of cornea to correct the focus of the light entering the eye.
In LASIK eye surgery the surgeon cuts a thin flap in the surface of the cornea and in LASEK an alcohol solution is used to weaken the top layer of cells in the cornea so that they can be folded out of the way for the next step. The surgeon then uses a computer controlled laser to burn away small amounts of tissue to reshape the surface of the cornea to correct the focus point of the light entering the eye. This usually takes between a few seconds and a minute to complete. In LASIK the thin flap of skin is repositioned over the treatment area and it naturally sticks to the eye. In LASEK the cells that were weakened with alcohol and folded out of the way are then folded back into their original position.
Generally speaking, both procedures are completed quickly and without a lengthy recovery time. However, LASIK patients are able to see without glasses only a day later. The recovery time for the LASEK procedure takes about a week. In most cases antibiotic and anti-inflammatory drops are required for the first few weeks.