Until contact lenses were made popular in the 1950’s, the only way to correct vision problems was to wear glasses. Fast forward to 2016 and there is an abundance of different approaches to correct vision, from reshaping the cornea in laser eye surgery procedures such as LASIK and PRK, to refractive lens exchange surgery.
So how do you know what one is right for you?
Laser Eye Surgery Options
Are you always misplacing your reading glasses or fed up with having to insert contact lenses everyday? If the answer is yes, then LASIK eye surgery might be for you. LASIK eye surgery is the most widely performed laser eye surgery to correct short sight, long sight, astigmatism, and presbyopia (the need for reading glasses). The surgery changes the curvature of the cornea so that light entering the eye will be correctly focused on the retina at the back of the eye, resulting in a clear image. Before you decide on LASIK eye surgery, speak to a surgeon to find out whether LASIK is right for you. Most people who have healthy eyes and have short-sight are good candidates, and mild to moderate degrees of long-sightedness can also usually be treated. However there are some conditions where LASIK might not be right for you:
- Changing prescription. LASIK might not be the best option if your glasses or contact lens prescription is still changing. Your prescription needs to be stable for at least 12 to 24 months before undergoing laser eye correction.
- Dry eyes/ Dry eyes is the most common complication from laser eye surgery worldwide, but with proper patient selection and pretreatment to improve eye lubrication, this can be avoided. At Focus we have a rigorous selection process and can spend several months getting your eyes ready for LASIK surgery.
- Severe refractive errors. If you have a very high prescription then LASIK might not be right for you. That’s not to say the treatment won’t work - it can greatly reduce the severity but there’s a chance you might still require glasses afterwards.
- Keratoconus. This is a corneal thinning problem and if you suffer from this or any other similar problem such as pellucid marginal degeneration, then there is little chance you can have LASIK.
After a consultation where you should receive a complete eye health examination to ensure your eyes are suitable for the procedure, if you find that you are not suitable for LASIK eye surgery, a number of other vision correction options could be available:
Similarly to LASIK, LASEK and PRK laser eye treatments reshape the cornea to correct abnormalities in focus. The difference, however, is that there is no flap made in the cornea, and this can cause significant pain post surgery and a more prolonged healing time. For those reasons alone, this procedure is far less popular than LASIK. However that doesn’t mean it might not be the right procedure for you. PRK is usually chosen for patients with thinner corneas where you want to avoid creating a LASIK flap. PRK/LASEK is especially suitable for those in contact sports or extremely active lifestyles as it leaves the cornea extremely stable, without the creation of the flap. To determine if you’re a candidate for this type of procedure, it will be necessary to have a complete laser eye surgery consultation from a trained professional.
Refractive Lens Exchange
If you’re over 50 and have distance and reading vision problems then this might be the procedure for you. RLE surgery replaces the clear natural lens inside the front part of the eye with an artificial intraocular lens. The most likely patients are:
- Those with moderate to high degrees of long-sight (hyperopia)
- Those aged 50+ who use reading glasses (presbyopia)
- Those not suitable for LASIK
RLE is generally recommended for people over 50 because at this age, people will have already started to develop presbyopia, which is the natural ageing process of the lens within your eye, resulting in reduced ability to focus on things close to you (e.g. reading).
The NHS explain that there are two different types of lenses used for RLE: monofocal and multifocal. The former improves your long distance sight but you'd still need to wear glasses for near-work, and the latter provides clear distance, middle and near, however 1% of people find they cannot get used to them and opt for another form of lens exchange operation.
Cataracts are very common, especially among those aged 70 and over. More than 300,000 cataract surgery procedures are carried out each year in the UK, which goes to show how common the problem is. A cataract is a clouding of the normally clear lens inside the front part of the eye, and can’t be fixed with glasses or contact lenses. If you suffer with the following symptoms then you might have cataracts:
- Difficulty to see in low or very bright light
- Development/ increase in short-sight
- Glare from strong lights which become uncomfortable or dazzling
- Colours which appear washed out or have a yellow or brown hue
- Double vision
- Headlights or streetlights have a halo around them
If you have any of these symptoms, speak to a consultant who can advise you on cataract removal procedures.
Remember suitability is the most important step in the whole laser eye treatment process. Successful laser eye surgery is about selecting and screening for the right candidates so why not book a consultation today?
If you are interested in vision correction at Focus Clinics please call us on 0207 307 8250 to book a free consultation.