But are you sure you are ready for it? It seems that the question about safety and reliability of vision restoration surgeries is very important for many. There are lots of articles and research results dedicated to laser correction, being the most popular technique of nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism, this issue is discussed by many forums and blogs visitors. And besides adequate and true information, there are numerous speculations and rumors that may scare an average reader seeking information on the subject. One can find out that according to some sympathetic and cognizant “experts” that the procedure is “hazardous, painful, they remove a corneal layer during the treatment, and the problem itself stays, one has to wear a dressing on the eye for several months, correction is prohibited for nonparous women, and vision will drop anyway…” Terrible, isn’t it? Better stay away. Keep your eyes intact, though not seeing too well6 but never let them slash the eyes!
Slash! Where this idea is coming from? And who invented the stories about bandages, hidden statistics on laser treatments, etc.? No use to try to find answer to those questions, better have a look at history, true facts and figures.
The first vision correction technique called then “radial keratotomy” was invented around 1930s. The idea was to make “notches” on the cornea in the direction from the pupil to corneal periphery, which adhered afterwards. This process changed the corneal shape improving the eyesight. However the method was causing serious complications (e.g. corneal opacification, leading to loss of vision). Accuracy and reliability were also variable issues, the problem being the fact that the healing process depends on individual regenerative abilities of a human organism, some can boast that wounds heal almost immediately while other have to wear bandages for weeks just because of a mere scratch. Even surgical instrument then we far from having micrometer accuracy. Most probably that experience evoked most gossips and prejudice still existing in the twenty-first century.
This method was further developed and improved in 1970s by the famous ophthalmic surgeon Svyatoslav Fyodorov. He already could use the new diamond instruments and powerful and handy microscopes thus bringing radial keratotomy to a new quality level. The procedure though required prolonged rehabilitation, still causing complications, patients had to be cautious as accidental physical strain could cause vision loss. And the matter of accuracy and outcome forecasting was still open. The 100% vision was still a gamble. Therefore the prejudice was still nourished.
But fortunately the attempts to find new ways for vision repair had been continued. The history of Excimer Laser (used in ophthalmology) dates back to 1976. The impulse was given by IBM Corporation engineers who started using laser rays to engrave computer chip surface. The technology demanded highest “jeweler’s” accuracy (up to micrometers). Therefore the know-how thrilled doctors. In the course of research it was proven that laser beams could safely and reliably affect tissue with precisely controlled depth and area, so the technique could surely be used in such delicate and demanding field as refractive surgery. This was the start of laser vision correction era.
The first PRK (Photorefractive Keratectomy) laser vision correction treatment was performed in 1985. As with radial keratotomy it was the cornea, which was exposed. But the exposure principle was different. There was no need to make multiple notches. The cornea shape was remodeled under laser exposure which evaporated tissue from the surface, creating new shape. The high accuracy allowed to make the outcome well predicted and eliminated vision correction side effects considerably. But still it required corneal surface layer restoration (regeneration), which could take from 2 to 4 days while the final adaptation took from 3 to 4 weeks. This was uncomfortable but still the patients were satisfied as the reliable final results made them forget about the inconvenience.
The most popular now LASIK (Laser-assisted In-situ Keratomileusis) technique appeared in 1989. The benefit was that the outer corneal layer was not damaged, the tissue was evaporated from mid-layers. This laser correction method was really revolutionary in refractive surgery, still today LASIK is widely used as it ensures very good results in vision correction, benefits being as follows: the procedure takes only a few minutes, it is performed under local anesthesia, the rehabilitation period is short.
The procedure starts with a special device called microkeratome slicing and folding aside a corneal surface layer flap 130 to 150 micrometers thick, then the laser evaporates some corneal tissue revealed, then the flap is placed back. Epithelium alongside the flap is restored within several hours following the correction, securely fixing the flap, and the patient experiences vision improvement immediately. Final vision acuity is restored in several days.
LASIK technique has passed many clinical trials before it was introduced at ophthalmology centres and clinics. Many years of patients observations proved that Excimer-laser does not cause any disturbance since only one of refractive media, namely the cornea - is exposed, and the exposure is precisely limited in depth. Around 5 million LASIK vision corrections have been performed in the world in last 10 years. In USA and Japan laser vision correction is delivered even by small Laser correction centres at shopping malls, next to dentist’s and cosmetic and beauty salons. Patients just have to have the eye check, then the doctor, basing on the diagnostics results makes the correction. Moreover the USA Government finances laser vision correction for military staff under the Armed Forces Updating Program.
High level of reliability and safety and the improvements in latest generation laser equipment made laser correction procedure simple and affordable for anyone. No need to say of course that as every medical treatment laser correction has some contra-indications and limitations. It is not recommended for patients suffering from HIV, tuberculosis, diabetes, some skin and eye deceases, pregnant women and nursing mothers. For those who have no contra-indications for laser vision correction, the technique is the real way-out. It is so great to have the pleasure to watch and see the world around clear and bright! Nobody from millions of patients who had undergone vision laser correction could pity the decision to get rid of glasses and contact lenses. Former ophthalmologist’s patients confess that after the correction they started feeling much better and sure of themselves. So great not to bother that you can literally overlook something. Having the successful experience they advise their visually impaired acquaintances to do the same. And many wonder why they were not persuaded before?
The truth about laser correction is that it really helps to get rid of myopia, hyperopia and astigmatism. Today it is the most reliable and perfect way to restore vision and forget about spectacles and contact lenses forever!