Eyeglasses have been a traditional solution for correcting vision problems for many centuries. When contact lenses arrived on the scene, they offered a new practical solution for restoring vision. Now an increasing number of eye surgery options have become available to reduce the need for glasses or contacts.
Eye Surgery Evolution
Advanced technology has made it possible to reshape eyes and restore vision for many people. Surgical techniques and tools have rapidly evolved over the past two decades to create procedures that are both safe and helpful.
Corrective surgeries for eyes now include everything from using lasers to reshape the cornea surface to inserting artificial lenses. These procedures correct how light entering the eye is processed – leading to much sharper vision in patients.
There are multiple measurements that are important to determine whether corneal refractive surgery is an option for you. Thinner corneas with a high degree of myopia, for example, usually require a more invasive surgery to reshape the eye surface enough to improve vision.
Eye Surgery Considerations
Our eyes change as we age, so some corrective surgeries are not a good option for everyone. People under 18, for example, are not good candidates for laser eye surgeries because their eyes change rapidly as their bodies are growing. Patients over the age of 40 may also not be a good candidate for refractive surgery as they will still need reading glasses to see at near.
Health also factors into eye surgeries. There are multiple eye conditions that may prevent you from being a good surgical candidate including keratoconus, severe dry eye, or other ocular surface diseases. Additionally, if you have diabetes or other medical conditions that impact eyesight, certain eye surgeries may pose serious risks.
Refractive Laser Surgeries
- Photorefractive Keratectomy (PRK) became the first successful surgery to change the shape of the cornea through removing tissue. The FDA approved PRK in 1995 and it is still widely used early in the 21st Century. With PRK, it only takes a few days for vision improvements to be realized.
- LASIK (laser assisted in situ keratomileusis) surgery followed on the heels of PRK. It uses the latest advancements in technology in order to provide faster recovery times and precise results. It involves cutting a thin flap in the outer covering of the eye to reshape the cornea. Unlike PRK, it only takes a few hours to gain sharper vision with LASIK surgery. There is some risk of suffering dry eye and other complications such as halos around bright lights until the flap fully heals. LASIK can be done with the aid of a mechanical cutting tool, using all lasers or incorporating wavefront technology that measures how light hits the eye.
- LASIK surgery has been effective in treating myopia, hyperopia, astigmatism, and other eye conditions. At Legacy Optical, our optometrists are able to perform pre- and post-operative care for patients undergoing LASIK eye surgery or other eye surgical procedures. Our goal is to help you attain the clearest vision possible using advanced technologies. If you have worn glasses or contact lenses for a long time, you may have wondered if LASIK surgery is a good choice for you. While not everyone is a candidate for LASIK, it does have some great advantages. People who play sports, have allergies, or who are looking for simplicity will all benefit from LASIK.
- Evaluation and Referral Process
- For patients that are interested in LASIK or other refractive eye surgeries, we can provide an evaluation to determine if you may be a good candidate prior to referring you to the proper eye surgeon. Your eye doctor will first review your medical history as well as perform a full assessment of your eye health and vision. A current exam is important in order to determine if you are a candidate for LASIK surgery and if there are any other factors that may affect your results. The history review enables our optometrist to determine if your prescription is stable and you are healthy enough to consider surgery.
- Once your doctor has performed the evaluation and determined you are a candidate for LASIK, you will be given a referral to a LASIK surgery center. The center will perform advanced diagnostic testing and will further evaluate your eligibility for surgery. Various surgery options will be discussed with you if you are determined to be a surgical candidate.
- Post-Operative Care
- Once your surgery is scheduled, your surgeon may recommend that you receive your post-operative care at our office following surgery. We will schedule follow-up appointments for you in our Hampton Bays office. Typically, you will begin these follow-ups the day after the surgery and continue at prearranged times over the following six months. After 1 year, a full exam is recommended to determine the long-term results of your procedure.
- Nearsighted patients are not alone in benefiting from surgeries. Farsightedness can be corrected through Conductive Keratoplasty (CK). It uses a small probe and low heat radio waves to create spots around the cornea periphery. CK steepens the cornea to give patients better near vision.
- Some eye surgeries require implanting new artificial lenses to produce vision improvements. Implantable lenses similar to contact lenses can correct more severe levels of nearsightedness. These artificial lenses go permanently over the natural lens on the eye. Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE) takes it a step further and replaces the natural lens with an artificial lens of a different shape. RLE is done to correct extreme farsightedness.
Cataract surgery is one of the most commonly performed eye surgeries in the United States. Cataracts develop when the natural lens in the eye gradually becomes more opaque over time, which results in worsening vision, hazy vision, reduced contrast or brightness, and glare. Once the cataract has reached a point that it is preventing acceptable vision required to be legal to drive or is interfering with your quality of life, your doctor will refer you for cataract surgery.
Cataract surgery includes removing the hazy natural lens in the eye and replacing it with a lens implant. Cataract surgery evaluations include further diagnostic testing in order to determine the appropriate lens implant power and parameters, which is determined by your cataract surgeon. These implants may correct for your distance prescription and may reduce your reliance on glasses or contact lenses. However, you will most likely still need reading glasses following cataract surgery.
- Evaluation and Referral Process
- Our optometrists can diagnosis visually significant cataracts and will refer you to a cataract surgeon once they determine that the cataract is ready to be removed. Once your surgeon has performed a pre-operative evaluation and determined all the measurements necessary to choose the appropriate lens implant, they will schedule your cataract surgery. Cataract surgery is only performed one eye at a time, usually spaced out between each eye by at least 2 weeks or more. It is also common to only have one eye operated on and to monitor the cataract in the other eye.
- During cataract surgery, small incisions are made in the eye in order to reduce the risk of complications and infection. The clouded natural lens is then broken into small fragments using high frequency ultrasound. These fragments are then removed from the eye and an artificial lens implant is folded and placed inside the eye, where it unfolds into the correct position. No stitches are required after cataract surgery, as the incisions are self-sealing. Overall, the procedure takes about 20 minutes. After the surgery is complete, you will be required to stay in the recovery area until the surgeon allows you to be released.
- Post-Operative Care
- Post-operative care includes using multiple eye drops that are tapered over about a month in order to prevent infection and inflammation in the eye. Follow up exams are scheduled for one day, one week, and one month after the surgery in order to ensure there are no complications.
- After a full month, your eye should be healed to the point where you can update your glasses prescription. Your optometrist will resume your ongoing comprehensive eye care at this visit and will determine whether or not you need glasses. Some patients appreciate clear distance vision without prescription glasses following cataract surgery but will most likely still need at least reading glasses.