- Laser eye surgery is a medical procedure that involves the use of a laser to reshape the surface of the eye. This is done to improve or correct short-sightedness, long-sightedness and astigmatism. It can also be helpful in overcoming presbyopia (difficulty seeing up close as we get older).
- Some people who have laser vision correction will still need to wear glasses or contact lenses to achieve optimum vision.
- It is an expensive procedure which is not usually covered by health insurance.
About laser eye surgery
Laser corneal sculpting is a medical procedure that involves the use of laser to reshape the surface of the eye. This is done to improve or correct myopia (short-sightedness), hypermetropia (long-sightedness) and astigmatism (uneven curvature of the eye’s surface). The first laser sculpting procedures were performed over 30 years ago.
The cornea is the transparent structure in the front of the eye which we see when we look into an eye. It serves to allow light to enter the eye and is the first of two focusing systems in the eye. The other is the crystalline lens which is located behind it. During laser eye surgery, a computer-controlled excimer laser is used to remove microscopic amounts of tissue from the cornea. The aim is to restore normal eyesight, without the need for glasses or contact lenses.
In one of the operations using the excimer laser, the thin outer layer of the cornea (called the corneal epithelium) is removed and the underlying layers are reshaped. This procedure is known as photorefractive keratectomy (PRK).
In a more commonly used procedure, a thin flap of corneal tissue is created with another laser known as a femtosecond laser. The most widely used one is known as the IntraLase. This flap is then lifted out of the way. The excimer laser reshapes the underlying tissue and the flap is replaced to cover the newly recontoured surface. Alternatively, an instrument with a very fine blade called a microkeratome can be used to make the flap before the excimer laser reshapes the cornea. This procedure is known as laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis (LASIK).