Laser eye surgery for astigmatism is a safe and effective medical procedure designed to correct the irregular curvature of the cornea or lens, which characterises astigmatism. In normal vision, the cornea and lens have a smooth, curved shape, resembling a basketball. This uniform curvature helps to focus light rays sharply onto the retina at the back of the eye. However, in astigmatism, the cornea or lens isn’t evenly curved, often resembling the shape of a rugby ball.
Laser eye surgery, such as LASIK, corrects this problem by reshaping the cornea. The laser precisely removes tiny amounts of corneal tissue to create a more regular shape, allowing light to focus more accurately on the retina. This reshaping corrects the astigmatic vision, improving visual acuity without the need for glasses or contact lenses. The procedure is typically quick, with a rapid recovery time, and can provide long-lasting results for those with stable prescriptions.
What Causes Short-Sightedness?
Short-sightedness, also known as myopia, is a common vision condition where distant objects appear blurry while close objects can be seen clearly. This condition occurs when the eyeball is too long relative to the focusing power of the cornea and lens, or when the cornea and/or lens are too curved for the length of the eyeball. In a normally shaped eye, light rays focus directly on the surface of the retina. However, in a myopic eye, light rays focus in front of the retina, causing distant objects to appear out of focus.
The exact cause of myopia is not fully understood, but it is believed to be due to a combination of genetic and environmental factors. While genetics plays a role, indicating that individuals with myopic parents are more likely to develop myopia themselves, it’s not solely a genetic condition. Environmental factors, particularly those related to lifestyle and visual habits, are also significant contributors. For instance, extensive near work, such as reading or using electronic devices for long periods, and limited time spent outdoors in natural light have been associated with the development and progression of myopia.
suggests that increasing outdoor activities in children and reducing prolonged close work can help manage the onset and progression of myopia. This highlights the importance of environmental factors over purely genetic determinants in the development of short-sightedness.
Can Laser Eye Surgery Fix Short-Sightedness (Myopia)?
Laser eye surgery is a highly effective option for correcting short-sightedness (myopia). The goal of this surgery is to reshape the cornea, the clear front part of the eye, so that light rays can focus directly on the retina rather than in front of it, which is the issue with myopia.
The most common type of laser eye surgery for correcting myopia is LASIK (Laser-Assisted In Situ Keratomileusis).
How Does Laser Eye Surgery Correct Myopia (Short-Sightedness)?
In LASIK, a surgeon creates a thin flap in the cornea, lifts it, and then uses a laser to reshape the underlying corneal tissue. This reshaping corrects the way light rays enter the eye and focus on the retina. After the cornea is reshaped, the flap is laid back in place, where it heals without the need for stitches.
Another type of laser eye surgery is LASEK (Laser-Assisted Sub-Epithelial Keratectomy). Here, the epithelium is loosened and placed aside before the laser reshapes the cornea, and then repositioned afterwards.
The latest type of laser eye surgery, also offered at Optegra, is ReLEx SMILE (Small Incision Lenticule Extraction).
This minimally invasive procedure involves the use of a femtosecond laser, which creates a small, lens-shaped piece of tissue (lenticule) within the cornea. The laser then makes a small, arc-shaped incision on the surface of the cornea. Through this incision, the surgeon extracts the lenticule, effectively altering the shape of the cornea to correct the refractive error. Unlike LASIK, SMILE does not require creating a large corneal flap, resulting in a quicker recovery, less discomfort, and a reduced risk of dry eyes and other complications associated with flap creation.
SMILE is praised for its precision and is particularly beneficial for patients with thinner corneas or those at risk of eye injuries, such as athletes, due to its flapless approach.
Each of these procedures has its own advantages and suitability, depending on the patient’s specific eye structure and health. The common aim is to modify the cornea’s shape to achieve clear vision without the need for glasses or contact lenses. The success rate of these surgeries is high, and they are known for their quick recovery times and long-lasting results, making them popular choices for correcting myopia.
How Long Does Laser Eye Surgery Last For Short-Sightedness?
For many patients, the effects of laser eye surgery are long-lasting, often spanning several years or decades. The primary goal of procedures like LASIK, LASEK, and SMILE is to permanently reshape the cornea, thereby correcting the refractive error that causes myopia. Once the cornea is reshaped, this change is typically permanent.
Are There Any Side Effects Of Laser Eye Surgery For Myopia?
Laser eye surgery for myopia is highly safe and effective, but like any surgical procedure, it can have potential side effects and complications. Most side effects are temporary and resolve over time, but it’s important to be aware of them:
Dry Eyes: One of the most common side effects post-surgery is dry eyes. Eye drops and other treatments are usually effective in managing this condition, which typically improves significantly within the first few months.
Glare, Halos, and Double Vision: Some patients may experience visual disturbances, such as increased sensitivity to light, glare, halos around bright lights, or double vision. These symptoms usually diminish within weeks or months after the surgery.
Under Corrections, Overcorrections, or Astigmatism: There’s a possibility that the laser might remove too little or too much tissue from the eye, leading to under correction or overcorrection of the initial myopia. These issues are simply resolved via additional surgery.
Infection and Inflammation: While rare, there is a risk of infection or inflammation following the surgery. These are typically treatable with medications.
The Costs of Laser Eye Surgery For Myopia
At Optegra, our prices start at just £1,795 per eye, with 0% finance options available.
What Next? Contact us to discuss your laser eye surgery requirements
If you would like to know how laser eye surgery can benefit you, set up your free virtual consultation with one of our experts, and we can guide you further.
By Author: Shafiq Rehman
Mr Rehman is a highly acclaimed ophthalmologist with 27 years of experience.
Medically Reviewed Date: 9th January 2024