Laser Vision Correction, a World of Better Vision
 

Laser vision correction is now in its second decade of helping patients reduce or eliminate their dependence on glasses and contact lenses. As testimony to its life-changing benefits, thousands of ophthalmologists and optometrists around the world have become so impressed with the results of laser vision correction that over one million procedures are now performed each year.

When laser vision correction was first performed in the early 1990s, only low to moderately nearsighted patients without astigmatism could be treated. Today, with the second and third generation Excimer lasers, very low to moderately high degrees of nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism can be readily treated.

In 1999 the first Wavefront-guided Excimer laser procedure was performed. Wavefront technology measures imperfections that are unique to each individualís optical pathway. This creates a one-of-a-kind profile of your eye that is then entered into the Excimer laser and used as a guide for the laser beam during treatment. Today, laser vision correctionís goal is to provide a better quality of vision while reducing or eliminating some of the side effects associated with conventional laser vision correction, such as glare and night-driving difficulties.

   
    Normal Eye
Clear vision is the result of light entering the cornea (the clear "outer window" of the eye), passing through the focusing lens inside the eye, and coming to a single point of focus on the retina. The most common types of visual distortions are nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. Doctors call these types of visual distortions lower order aberrations. They are responsible for approximately 85% to 90% of the overall quality of your vision.
 
  Nearsightedness
Nearsightedness occurs when the cornea is too steep or the eye is too long. This causes light rays entering the eye to focus at a point in front of the retina. People who are nearsighted have difficulty seeing distant objects.
     
   

Ocean View

   

Ocean View

     
   
 
     
 
    Farsightedness
Farsightedness occurs when the cornea is too flat or the eye is too short. This causes light rays entering the eye to focus at a point behind the retina. People who are young and farsighted can often see at a distance but have difficulty seeing close objects. As one ages, both near and distance vision become difficult.
    Astigmatism
Astigmatism occurs when the cornea is shaped like a football, steep in one direction and flat in the other direction. This causes light rays entering the eye to focus at multiple points within the eye, causing double and/or blurred vision. People who are nearsighted or farsighted also commonly have astigmatism.
     
   

Ocean View

   

Ocean View

     
  LASIK
 

LASIK combines the accuracy of the Excimer laser with the quick healing characteristics of a procedure first performed in 1949 called Lamellar Keratoplasty. The primary difference between PRK and LASIK is that the surface of the cornea is treated in PRK while the inner tissue of the cornea is treated in LASIK. Both have similar success rates but LASIK offers patients less post-operative discomfort and a quicker return to functional vision.

During the procedure, a special device creates a hinged flap of thin corneal tissue. The flap is gently folded out of the way. Then the laser reshapes the underlying tissue. The surgeon replaces the corneal flap, which quickly goes back into place without the need for stitches. With less surface area to heal than PRK, LASIK patients recover very quickly and most experience little, if any, discomfort. Functional vision returns very rapidly, with the majority of patients seeing well enough to drive in a day or two without glasses or contact lenses. Most patients elect to have LASIK on both eyes at the same time.

Am I a Good Candidate for LASIK?
Only a qualified refractive surgeon can determine if you are a good candidate for the LASIK procedure. We encourage you to visit our office for a free consultation to see if you are a good LASIK candidate. At the consultation we will listen to your needs, evaluate your particular visual condition and if necessary, additional testing will be performed to see if other options are right for you. Finally, we will provide you with your vision correction options and together, we will choose the treatment that is best for you.

In general, good candidates for LASIK are at least 18 years of age. They have not had a significant increase in their prescription in the past 12 months. They have a diagnosed refractive error and they have healthy corneas. People with certain medical conditions, including eye disease, diabetes, and pregnancy, may not prove to be good candidates for this procedure. In order to determine whether or not a patient is a good candidate for LASIK, the doctor will perform a special series of tests, as well as a detailed medical history during their initial eye exam. If patients are interested in this procedure, they should ask their doctor to determine whether or not LASIK is a safe and viable option.
 

   
 

               

   
  Photo Refractive Keratectomy (PRK)
 

Photo-Refractive Keratectomy (PRK) is the oldest laser vision correction procedure. It became popular worldwide in the early 1990s and in the USA in 1995 when the excimer laser was first approved by the FDA for laser vision correction.

PRK treats the surface of the cornea and does not require the use of a microkeratome to make a flap, as does LASIK. For this reason, it can be considered the safest form of Laser Vision Correction.

After treatment, a protective contact lens bandage is placed on the eye to make it more comfortable during the healing process. Usually within three to five days, the epithelium is fully healed. You should expect some moderate discomfort for the first 24-48 hours. Most PRK patients notice an improvement in their vision soon after surgery; however, vision is usually somewhat blurred for the first two weeks. Your functional vision should return in three to seven days while full vision results may not be recognized for three weeks to several months. For this reason, PRK is often performed on one eye treated at a time.

   
                   
  VISX Star S4 Excimer Laser
 

In the early 1980ís, VISX, Inc. developed the first Excimer laser designed to improve the precision and predictability of altering the shape of the cornea. Our doctors use the newest generation, VISX STAR S4 Active Trak Excimer Laser System that incorporates variable beam technology with an active eye tracking system. The Active Trak continuously positions the laser beam precisely on the eye throughout the procedure. It is the only 3D tracker that is capable of tracking all eye movements. There is no need to dilate the pupil. This assures accurate placement of the beam, helps our patients feel more at ease during the procedure and allows patients to appreciate their improved vision much quicker. The VISX Star S4 provides faster treatment times, a smoother surface and allows our surgeons to shape the beam to meet each patientís individual vision correction need.

 
  Realistic Expectations

The decision to have Laser Vision Correction is an important one that ultimately, only you can make. It is important that you have realistic expectations and that your decision is based on facts, not hopes or misconceptions. The goal of any refractive procedure is to reduce your dependence on corrective lenses. Laser vision correction does not always create 20/20 or even 20/40 vision. Even if you have an excellent result, the quality of your vision may not be as good as it was with glasses or contact lenses. Your doctor will provide you with additional information about the procedure, possible side effects and complications, postoperative healing course and possible alternatives that will allow you to make a fully informed decision. Be sure to have all your questions answered before you have the procedure.

The Next Step

Finding out about the health of your eyes is your first step towards visual freedom. This is accomplished by calling the doctors at the Aslett Kurica Eye Center to schedule a personal consultation. Should your refractive error fall within the corrective range of laser vision correction, more extensive tests will be necessary. This information will help you and your doctor determine if laser vision correction is in your best interest and, if so, which procedure will best suit your individual needs.
 

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