Laser Eye Surgery
Laser eye surgery can have tremendous benefits for patients. It frees people up from a dependence on glasses or contact lenses and can therefore offer new opportunities such as the chance to try certain sports which are considered unsuitable for wearers of glasses or contacts. The operation can also increase self-esteem and removes issues such as difficulty driving in low light. However, to get the maximum benefit from laser eye surgery, it’s important to choose the correct treatment, and it’s also worth remembering that each procedure does have its positives and negatives. Any decision is therefore best made in consultation with an ophthalmic surgeon.
LASIK is a popular treatment for people who suffer from myopia, astigmatism and hyperopia. It is not suitable for the treatment of presbyopia. This type of surgery is recommended for patients who have had a stable prescription for their glasses for a minimum of two years and who are over 21.
The procedure itself entails a cut being made in the cornea, a laser removes the underlying tissue, then the corneal flap is put back into place. Although you would be awake throughout the procedure, patients are given anaesthetic eye drops to ensure no pain is felt. The entire treatment takes around 40 minutes and eyesight should return to normal within a few days. The cost for LASIK surgery will depend on whether you opt for Wavelight or Wavefront technology but is typically around £1,000 per eye, with bladeless surgery costing around £300 more than the standard option.
LASEK is similar to LASIK eye surgery, but the main difference is that a much thinner flap is created, thereby removing only the thin outer cover of the eye (known as the epithelium). It can treat the same conditions as LASIK, but does tend to be a less popular choice.
LASEK is more suited to people who have steeper or thinner corneas, but the downside of the operation is that the recovery process is much longer than with LASIK. It also has a greater risk of post-surgery complications. The costs for LASEK are similar to LASIK at around £1,000 per eye.
This treatment is a cross between LASIK and LASEK and is particularly suited to people who have thin corneas as a much finer cut is made. This option is also most popular with people who play sport or who are in the police or armed forces as the epithelial flap is much less likely to become dislodged. Epi-LASIK is most effective at treating people who have mild short sightedness and full recovery can take a number of weeks. Epi- Lasik usually costs in the region of £700 per eye.
PRK was the original form of laser eye surgery in the UK, and while it has been overtaken in popularity by newer techniques, it is still suitable for some clients. PRK can be used to treat hyperopia, myopia and astigmatism just like LASIK, but it is considered especially suitable for people with steeper corneas and a large pupil.
Some groups of people, such as those who have glaucoma or pregnant women, are not recommended to opt for PRK, but it is the quickest of all the laser procedures and it takes under 5 minutes to complete. Unfortunately, however, it is generally considered to be more painful than LASIK. PRK costs around £800 per eye.
Zyoptix is a specialised form of LASIK which has been recently developed. It uses the latest technology to scan your eye and give an unique reading of any individual irregularities. It can be used on people with much thinner corneas than those suited to traditional LASIK and produces excellent results, with as many as 98% of patients obtaining 20/20 vision.
As this is a new technology, there a very few clinics offering Zyoptix at present and prospective patients would need to contact clinics directly to receive an accurate quote. Costs are generally slightly higher than with standard LASIK or LASEK surgery.
How to Decide on Which Laser Eye Surgery is Best for You
Before you decide on which surgery you should have, or indeed whether you should opt for laser eye surgery at all, there are a number of steps that are worth taking. Firstly, try talking to other people who have had the procedure carried out; this could be friends or relations or you could ask local clinics for testimonials from previous clients. It would also prove helpful to carry out background research by contacting the Royal Society of Ophthalmologists who are experts in the field and can provide detailed information on all possible laser eye procedures. Lastly, be sure to speak to a qualified ophthalmic surgeon who will be able to help guide you in making your decision.
How to Find a Laser Eye Surgery Clinic
Finding a clinic you are happy with is the most important part of the whole process and it is important not to rush this decision. You may prefer a large national chain, or a smaller locally based surgeon; it’s about what is right for you. Take time to speak to the people who will be carrying out the procedure and find out what qualifications they have. All surgeons who carry out this surgery are listed on the Royal Society of Ophthalmologists website. Alternatively, large chains such as Spec Savers allow you to make appointments online to discuss possible treatment options with specially qualified staff.