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Types of Laser Eye Surgery


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Laser eye surgery procedures have been being performed for the best part of 15 years, so it is no surprise that there are hundreds of laser eye surgery clinics in the UK alone that offer a plethora of surgical procedures. It is important that you make sure you are having the right procedure for you, in the right clinic.

With so many available procedures at so many different clinics, advertising is rife, with each clinic promising the best results. Each procedure has its own name, the majority are anagrams, using the first letter of each word to make up their names. Without any prior medical knowledge all these words can be meaningless as they seem very similar. This can cause further confusion when you start doing your research into the different types of surgery. The following articles aim to clear up any confusion you may have regarding laser eye surgery procedures. Each article focuses on one type of procedure, explaining its name and other information you will need to know.

There are two major types of laser eye surgery procedure, LASIK and LASEK. These are the most commonly performed procedures, however there are a number of others that are used depending on your visual problem. These include PRK, Epi-LASIK, Intralase and wavefront guided procedures. Some of these procedures are modified LASIK and LASEK operations, which are used to increase the efficiency of laser eye surgery procedures.

LASIK stands for laser assisted in situ keratomileusis. This is used for all types of vision correction and requires a laser to thin out the cornea after a flap has been created using a special type of blade called a microkeratome.

LASEK is another common type of vision correction procedure, standing for laser assisted sub-epithelial keratomileusis. Just like LASIK a laser is used to reshape the cornea, hence it is called laser assisted. Unlike LASIK, a trephine is used to cut the cornea, allowing a smaller flap of just epithelium to be pulled back. This is why it is called sub-epithelial.

PRK or photo refractive keratectomy is the forerunner to today’s modern laser eye surgery procedures. It is similar to all the other procedures, as it uses a laser to change the surface of the cornea. Where it differs from the others is that it completely removes the front covering of the cornea, the epithelium. The other procedures all replace the part of the cornea they remove.

Both Epi-lasik and intralase are modified from the original LASIK and LASEK procedures. Epi-lasik is just like LASIK however it only pulls back the epithelial covering of the cornea before a laser is used on the cornea. Intralase is a procedure where only lasers are used throughout the entire operation, whereas LASIK normally uses a microkeratome.

The most recent advance in the field of laser eye surgery is something called ‘Wavefront’ technology. This involves using multiple light sources to scan the front of your cornea to produce a map of all its irregularities. This information is then used by a computer to more accurately correct the front of the corneal surface. The main advantage to this procedure is that it can correct your vision a lot more accurately than the normal LASIK and LASEK procedures. This means you have a higher chance of having a better outcome to your surgery.

Just like wavefront, wavelight and zyoptix technology both involve scanning the front of the cornea to produce a map of the irregularities of your cornea. This map is unique to you and allows your ophthalmologist to correct the surface of your cornea as well as possible. This is advantageous as it is personalised to you, instead of the common LASIK and LASEK procedures.

All these laser eye surgery procedures will be covered in more detail in the following articles.


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