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Refractive Eye Surgery

Refractive surgery is designed to correct vision problems in those patients suffering from vision difficulties due to nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism as an alternative to wearing glasses and/or contacts. Through surgery it is possible to correct vision for various levels of correction and provide custom correction to each eye. Refractive surgery works by reshaping the cornea. How this reshaping is performed depends both on the type of refractive surgery and the type of correction needed. Those with vision problems such as near- and farsightedness need correction so that light entering through the cornea or the area at the front of the eye properly lands on the back of the eye on a section known as the retina. If you are considering refractive eye surgery the following things should be considered, including the possible adverse effects listed below. In general refractive surgery is only an option for people in good health and free of eye disease, although some alternative treatments may be discussed with your doctor. Further candidates should be at least 18 years old and have a steady eye correction prescription. Also it should be up to a doctor to determine what type of surgery is best for the candidate or whether the patients qualifies for surgery at all.

Types of refractive eye surgery include but are not limited to the following. One of the most well known and most common surgeries, LASIK can be used to address all vision problems and is distinguished by an incision made on the outer layer of the cornea, creating a small flap. PRK is a slightly different treatment used on those with moderate vision problems, and is similar to LASIK in that it changes the shape of the cornea but unlike LASIK it is only used on the surface of the cornea. Both LASIK and PRK can be assisted by computer imaging to ensure accurate correction of the cornea and are the two predominate types of refractive eye surgery. Other types of refractive eye surgery are variations and earlier forms of the prior techniques, including ALK a prototype of LASIK surgery during which an incision is made in the cornea but a knife rather than a laser is used to reshape the inner cornea. A final type of refractive surgery called RLE actually removes the old lens of the eye and replaces it with silicon new one. Sometimes multiple types of surgeries are required to achieve optimum corrected vision.

Refractive Eye Surgery, however, is not a cure all and has the following possible side effects and complications. As with any medical procedure there is a risk of infection, however the rates are extremely low with only one-tenth of 1% of those receiving PRK reporting infection and even lower rates for those with LASIK. There is the possibility that there are unforeseen irregularities in the patient’s eye that cause refractive eye surgery to make vision worse than it was before the treatment. Additionally, there is a risk of over- or under- correction leading to the continued need for corrective eyewear. Finally, there is a risk of difficulty seeing at night due to the uncorrected portion of the eye producing a second image. As with any medical treatment these risks should be discussed with your doctor before deciding any course of treatment.

In conclusion, refractive eye surgery can be used to treat vision problems associated with problems in the shape of the cornea. While it can help a variety of patients, it is up to a doctor’s discretion whether you would be a successful surgery candidate. Further as technology develops surgery becomes both more accurate and safer.

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