What Is Laser Eye Surgery And What Are The Different Types?

If you have to put up with the inconveniences of wearing spectacles and/or contact lenses, chances are, you would have heard of the terms “laser eye surgery”, “laser vision correction” or “refractive eye surgery”.These different terms basically mean the same thing – referring to an umbrella of procedures which make use of laser technology to help you see clearly. Perhaps you have heard about LASIK before. LASIK might be the most popular type of laser vision correction surgery in the world, but certainly not the only type of laser vision correction surgery. There are other types of laser vision. surgery available such as TransPRK and ReLEx® SMILE.

So, what can laser eye surgery corrects?

Laser eye surgery can be used to correct various refractive errors (e.g. myopia, astigmatism and hyperopia). The LASIK surgeon will use the laser to reshape the cornea curvature, to correct the eye refractive errors, so you can live freely – independent of your glasses and contact lenses.

Firstly, what is LASIK (laser-assisted in-situ keratomileusis)?

LASIK is easily the most commonform of laser eye surgery.LASIK is highly popularised due to its minimal downtime and speedy recovery. How fast is the recovery from LASIK? In fact, most patients will be able to see clearly and regain 75% of their vision by the very next day!

The initial step in LASIK is to cut a cornea flap. In most cases, the cut is performed using a femtosecond laser. After the flap created, it is then lifted, to allow a second laser called the excimer laser to reshape your cornea curvature. The flap will be repositioned back in place, and off you go!

How about ReLEx® SMILE (Refractive Lenticule Extraction – Small Incision Lenticule Extraction)?

ReLEx® SMILE involves a much smaller, 2mm incision called a ‘lenticule’ that is simply one-tenth the size of that of the 20mm cut required to create a LASIK flap. As a result, it is less invasive and is associated with less dry eyes complaints as compared to LASIK. Known as a minimally-invasive procedure & flapless procedure, ReLEx SMILE only utilises a single laser – the femtosecond laser.

In ReLEx SMILE, the femtosecond laser is used to make the corneal ‘lenticule’ and to cut a minute incision at the side of the cornea, which will subsequently be extracted through the small incision. The cornea will then collapse into the empty space, changing the way light bends into the eye.

Types of Laser Eye Surgery - Cost & Risks of PRK vs. LASIK vs. LASEK

Then, what is Advanced Surface-based Procedure (e.g. Trans PRK & Epi-LASIK)?

As its name suggests, Advanced Surface-based Procedures corrects the vision right from the surface of the cornea. It has the benefit of being free from various flap-related complications.

Over the years the techniques becomes more refined. For example, while in many cases Epi-LASIK still uses a suction ring and an epithelium separator device, TransPRK is a completely touch-free procedure involving purely the excimer laser.

Firstly, the corneal epithelium layer will have to be removed. Epi-LASIK uses a device which vibrates at close to ultrasonic speed to separate the epithelium and afterwards, an excimer laser to reshape the cornea curvature. Whereas, TransPRK uses a single excimer laser to perform the whole procedure. This same laser will be used to change the cornea curvature.

What are the possible risks involved in laser eye surgery?

By now, we know that laser eye surgery is used to improve your unaided vision. How about the possible complications that may arise post-operatively?

The risk that is common to all the procedures that you’ve got to be aware of is the risk of infection. Though the risk is very minimal with modern technology and medications, you should always keep your eye area hygienic at all times. Do not forget to wash your hands prior to applying the eye medications.

Other possible risks include the glares and halos, dry eyes and fluctuations in your vision. Usually this is experienced during the initial recovery process and improves gradually over time.

If you want to explore further on the various laser eye surgery options in Singapore, hereis a list of 12 trustworthy clinic in Singapore to have your LASIK procedure!

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