Laser Eye Surgery
Laser eye surgery is a refractive surgery that uses a laser to ablate corneal or epithelial tissue in order to reshape and thus correct refractive errors. A flap or thin layer is normally cut from the surface of the eye to allow the laser to ablate the cornea into the necessary shape to achieve correct focussing. There are three main types of laser eye surgery, namely; PRK, LASEK and LASIK. Each type of laser eye surgery is similar to the next, the main differences are the tools used to cut the flap, the thickness of the flap and the recovery times and even these differences are not so drastic.
PRK and Lasik
PRK or Photorefractive Keratectomy is the earliest form of laser eye surgery used to correct low refractive errors. PRK is usually preferred for use on patients with larger pupils and thinner corneas compared with Lasik (Laser Assisted In Situ Keratomileusis). PRK surgery applies the laser directly to the surface of the eye and completely destroys the epithelial layer (which grows back). Vision takes longer to improve, is less effective and the recovery time is longer than LASIK laser eye surgery. LASIK surgery is used for short sighted (myopia) patients, hyperopia (long sightedness) and astigmatism (irregular shaped corneas) sufferers. LASIK laser eye surgery either uses a microkeratome blade to cut a thin flap on the epithelial layer of the eye or is bladeless and uses a high energy laser. Bladeless types of LASIK laser eye surgery are branded as Wavefront and Intralase. During LASIK laser eye surgery the flap will not be removed but hinged backwards to reveal the surface of the cornea. Healing times are faster and there is less discomfort experienced during and after LASIK laser eye surgery compared to PRK surgery.
LASEK Laser Eye Surgery
LASEK or Laser Epithelial Keratomilieusis is very similar to PRK except that the epithelial layer is preserved. During a LASEK procedure the epithelial layer is lifted using a trephine rather than the blade of LASIK surgery. Similar to PRK surgery the ideal candidates are those with thin or steep corneas. LASEK surgery is usually advised for patients with corneas too thin or steep to make them ideal candidates for LASIK surgery and has a tendency to take longer to heal than LASIK procedures.
Laser Eye Surgery Cost
LASIK is the most popular type of laser eye surgery and the cost will vary considerably from clinic to clinic. The most reputable laser eye surgery clinics are now able to offer cheap laser eye surgery from only £395 per eye. LASEK will usually be offered as an alternative to LASIK if the patient is not suitable for LASIK surgery. It is extremely important only to use reputable laser eye clinics to perform any type of laser eye surgery as it is a specialized surgery requiring highly experienced laser eye surgeons.