How is LASER Technology Used in Eye Surgery?
Laser eye surgery was made possible in the 1980s, when researchers at an IBM research facility discovered that their new excimer laser could incise animal tissue with extreme precision and without leaving behind scar tissue. This led to the first surgical application of a laser on human tissue. After roughly a decade of clinical trials and improvements, laser eye surgeries were being performed around the world, and by 2001, LASIK had become the world’s most common elective surgery. At Georgia Eye Physicians and Surgeons, P.C., we use laser technology to treat a number of different eye conditions.
While various laser systems can be used to perform several distinct procedures, the most common use, by far, is for LASIK, or laser in-situ keratomileusis surgery, which can correct the refractive errors that cause near and far-sightedness. During a bladeless LASIK procedure, a femtosecond laser is used to create a thin, circular “flap” in the cornea. This hinged flap is then carefully folded back to allow access to the underlying cornea (called the stroma). At this point an excimer laser, which uses a cool ultraviolet light beam, removes microscopic amounts of tissue from the cornea, painlessly reshaping it so that it can more accurately focus light on the retina. Ultimately this can flatten the shape of the cornea to correct myopia (nearsightedness), or make it steeper to treat hyperopia (farsightedness). Contrary to popular belief, the excimer laser can even correct astigmatism by smoothing an irregular cornea into a more normal shape. In either case, after the laser reshapes the cornea, the flap is laid back in place, and the cornea is allowed to heal naturally. LASIK is performed on each eye separately, with each procedure taking only about five minutes.
A similar procedure can also be used to treat cataracts that cloud the lens of the eye until it completely obscures vision. During cataract surgery, the clouded, natural lens of the eye is removed and replaced with a permanent artificial lens. The procedure begins just like a routine LASIK procedure, with the creation of the circular flap in the cornea. At that point, the lens is dissected and removed while the elastic capsule that surrounds it is left intact to allow for the placement of the new artificial lens. The replacement lens can be one of several different types, ranging from the monofocal lens, which focuses on distant objects and leaves near-vision unaffected, to the advanced ReStore® Premium Intraocular Lenses, which are designed with apodized diffractive and refractive technology to allow for patients to have an easier time focusing at close, intermediate and far distances. Some patients may still require reading glasses for close-up work after intraocular lens replacement surgery, depending on the specific form of intraocular lens they choose to have implanted.
If you are interested in any of the many services offered at Georgia Eye Physicians and Surgeons, or would like to make an appointment for a comprehensive eye exam, please contact us today. Be sure to follow Dr. William Segal and Dr. Marc Lay on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ for more tips for healthy eyes.