LASIK, PRK, Lens Replacement, Cataract Surgery… what do they all mean? When it comes to vision correction surgery, it can be complicated to know the difference between the various procedures and which is best for your current condition. If you currently struggle with bad vision and are interested in vision correction but don’t know where to start, here are some basics that will help.
LASIK: Explain It to Me
LASIK eye surgery is becoming more popular than ever as it allows people to free themselves from the hassle of wearing glasses or contacts every day. So what exactly is LASIK? The word LASIK comes from the scientific term “laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis.” LASIK is performed by an eye surgeon using lasers to reshape the cornea. LASIK is most commonly performed on people that are nearsighted, farsighted, or have astigmatism, which is basically blurred vision because of a misshapen cornea or lens. During a LASIK procedure, the surgeon creates a flap in the cornea of the eye to reshape it, allowing for sharper vision.
If you’ve ever heard the term PRK, it is similar to LASIK but is generally thought of as a precursor that was developed in the 1980s. The difference between PRK and LASIK is how much and which part of the cornea is altered during the procedure.
LASIK is an outpatient procedure that doesn’t require sedation or a long recovery period. Before the procedure, patients are generally given anesthetic eye drops to ease any potential discomfort. LASIK surgery takes about 15 minutes per eye, during which time the eye surgeon creates a corneal flap with the use of a laser, and reshapes the cornea to correct and sharpen vision. After the procedure, patients are sent home with eye drops and instructions to avoid eye irritation while the small incisions heal. Most people report improved vision within just a few days.
Cataract surgery is more common for seniors over the age of 70, however, cataracts can still develop in younger people as a result of an injury or trauma to the eye. A cataract is defined as a clouding in the lens of the eye that restricts light from entering in the eye, altering the ability of the eye to see with normal vision. Cataracts can be diagnosed with a simple eye test, but patients are generally referred to an eye surgeon, or ophthalmologist, who then performs the surgery.
During a cataract procedure, the surgeon makes small incisions in the eye, allowing him to remove the old, clouded lens of the eye and insert a new, artificial lens that provides the patient with improved vision. Until recently, eye surgeons were required to perform these procedures manually, but with advances in technology, specialized lasers are available for improved accuracy with these incisions.
How improved a patient’s vision is after a cataract procedure is dependent on the type of artificial lens that is used to replace the clouded lens. New multifocal lenses provide perfect vision both close-up and far away, whereas other lenses may only provide one or the other, requiring the patient to still rely on glasses occasionally.
Like LASIK, cataract surgery is an outpatient procedure that is completed within a few minutes. Patients are also sent home with medicated eye drops, and the eye generally heals completely within a matter of weeks.
Lens Replacement Surgery
Lens replacement surgery is a newer procedure that is becoming more popular as more advanced artificial lens implants are being developed. Lens replacement surgery offers the best of both worlds for people that may not qualify for LASIK surgery, but are still in need of corrective vision. Many people with vision problems opt for lens replacement surgery as a way to ensure perfect or near-perfect vision for the rest of their life.
Because those who undergo LASIK surgery are still prone to get cataracts in their later years, it’s likely that they may have to undergo a second eye procedure to correct their vision as a result of the cataracts. Lens replacement surgery, however, is a way that fixes both problems. With the artificial lens implant, the patient has no risk of developing cataracts in their later years, yet their vision is still corrected almost immediately, allowing them to live free of glasses or contacts for the rest of their life.
If you are someone who is tired of glasses or contacts and are interested in vision correction surgeries, the first step is to get your eyes checked and consult with your eye doctor about eye surgery options that are right for you.