Suﬀering from these symptoms?
Distorted vision (astigmatism)
What is refractive surgery?
These procedures improve the focusing state of the eye and decrease – or even eliminate – the need for glasses or contact lenses. An examination to determine the surgery most appropriate for you is the first step.
Make an appointment
Come and see us to discuss your concerns with one of our specialists.
More about Refractive Surgery & FAQ’s
What is Refractive Surgery?
More commonly known as LASIK, or laser eye surgery, refractive surgery is a surgical method for improving your vision. Refractive surgery can be used to treat a wide variety of refractive defects including myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), astigmatism and presbyopia. The most common type of refractive surgery is indeed LASIK, and is performed by using a laser to reshape the cornea in order to change the way in which the eye lets in (refracts) light. By changing the shape of the cornea to compensate for the natural defect (e.g. astigmatism or an oval cornea being rounded), your vision is improved. While The Eye Centre does not perform these surgeries in-house, we do offer eye assessments and offer referrals for refractive surgery on a case-by-case basis.
Who Needs Refractive Surgery
While myopia, hyperopia, astigmatism and presbyopia can be corrected or improved by the use of spectacles and/or contact lenses, refractive surgery is a potential long-term solution for those who would like to reduce their dependence on visual aids. In fact, some people won’t need to use spectacles or contact lenses at all following refractive surgery. Some of the most popular reasons for pursuing this procedure include:
- Being a competitive sports-person whose performance could be improved by their foregoing traditional visual aids.
- Being in a line of work where wearing spectacles or contact lenses is or could be considered a health and safety risk.
- Aesthetic preferences.
- The inability to make use of contact lenses as an alternative, whether due to personal preference (discomfort etc.) or ophthalmic incompatibility (e.g. severe dry eye syndrome).
Benefits of LASIK
The benefits of refractive surgery are manyfold. Not only will your vision be necessarily improved, but refractive surgery typically represents a once-off cost as opposed to the ongoing costs of purchasing contact lenses and/or having your eyes tested and acquiring new prescription spectacles. Depending on your reasons for pursuing refractive surgery, the procedure may very well greatly improve your experience of your quality of life.
Potential Side Effects of Refractive Surgery
While the surgery improves eyesight, you may still (or at some point in the future, again) require spectacles for activities such as night-driving or reading. Understanding that the goal of refractive surgery is improved vision, and that the restoration of perfect vision is never a guarantee, could help prevent postoperative disappointment. Side effects of the procedure itself are typically short-lived and resolve on their own without further medical intervention. These side effects may include (but are not limited to) such benign symptoms as blurred vision, red eyes, some pain and swelling, and/or ocular discharge. Some side effects not directly related to the surgery include those typically associated with anesthesia, such as allergic reactions, intolerances or pain.
Risks of LASIK
Unfortunately, nothing in life worth having comes without risk, and refractive surgery is no different. That being said, less than 1% of patients will develop severe complications following surgery. Therefore it is far more likely you won’t suffer any complications and that you will have a textbook recovery. That being said, treatable risks include the risk of infection or postoperative vision regression.
Alternatives to Refractive Surgery
Alternatives to refractive surgery include the use of more traditional visual aids, such as prescription spectacles and/or contact lenses.
Surgical alternatives to standard LASIK surgery include:
Wavefront-guided LASIK, in which a computer renders a 3D representation of the cornea first in order to determine the optimal surgical path. Wavefront-guided LASIK has a higher percentage of patients being restored to 20/20 vision when compared to the surgical outcomes of standard LASIK.
Conductive Keratoplasty, in which your ophthalmologist uses a noninvasive, thermal refractive surgical technique to correct mild to moderate hyperopia in those over 40 years of age. This procedure does not make use of lasers, but rather makes use of radio frequency (RF) energy to apply heat to specific portions of the cornea. That portion of the cornea then shrinks or tightens as a result of that heat, kind of like a wool sweater in a tumble-dryer, but far more precise. The longevity of conductive keratoplasty, however, especially when compared to LASIK, leaves much to be desired.
LASEK is similar to LASIK, with the difference being in the “e”-for-epithelial. LASEK is still a kind of refractive laser eye surgery, but one that focusses on creating a flap of epithelial corneal tissue which is moved out of the way prior to the corneal reshaping. After the corneal sculpting (which is the same procedure as is followed in traditional LASIK), this epithelial flap is replaced (repositioned), and a soft contact lens is placed as a “bandage” to help the epithelial layer heal.
If you’re trying to understand the difference between LASIK and LASEK, think of it like a pot on your stove with a glass lid on it. In LASIK surgery, the laser penetrates the “glass lid” to reach and treat what is inside the “pot”. In LASEK, the “lid” is taken off the pot, the contents is then treated with the laser, and finally the “lid” is put back on the “pot” once the treatment is complete.
Do you want to know whether or not you’re a suitable candidate for refractive surgery without having to go out of your way to find an appropriate service provider who may not even be able to help you?
Make an appointment at The Eye Centre today and one of our expert ophthalmologists will be able to offer you a full eye assessment and appropriate recommendation for treatment.
Should you be a suitable candidate for refractive surgery, we can then refer you to one of our expert colleagues.
If not, we can recommend suitable alternative treatment options. No matter your needs, The Eye Centre is here for you, because we care about eye care.
For more information on Retinal Conditions, you can visit any of the sites listed below.
What Is Refractive Surgery? – by American Academy of Ophthalmology
Laser Eye Surgery FAQs – by Laser Eye Surgery Hub