Perhaps you’ve been wearing glasses since you were 5 years old. Or maybe you’ve been in contact lenses for the last 5 years. Whatever your current form of vision correction, if you’ve been tempted by the idea of laser eye surgery, you would be one of thousands. So, what is laser eye surgery, how does it work, and how do you know it’s right for you?


The Problem with Glasses and Contacts

As a form of vision correction, optical aids such as glasses and contact lenses have their place. They’re relatively easy to put on and remove, and there’s no issue with updating the prescription to keep up with the changing power of your eyes. However, there are also limitations. 

If you’re a spectacle wearer, have you ever encountered the following scenarios:

  • Your glasses fogging up while drinking a hot beverage or soup
  • Or more commonly nowadays, your glasses fogging up when wearing a mask
  • A cheeky toddler swiping the frames from your face and either flinging them to the floor or chewing on the lenses
  • The arm or temple of your spectacle frames becoming loose or falling off entirely
  • Nose pads getting caught in your hair as you wear your glasses on top of your head

Alternatively, for contact lens wearers, perhaps the following sounds more familiar to you:

  • A lens falling out, usually at a crucial moment like a sports match
  • The endless cleaning and disinfecting
  • The ongoing costs of renewing your contact lens supply
  • Finding a torn or missing lens as you open a brand-new pack 
  • Dry, gritty, tired eyes by mid-afternoon  

Depending on the individual, you may find none of these scenarios to be a problem. However, there are many people looking to laser eye surgery as a more convenient, no-fuss form of vision correction


What Is Laser Eye Surgery?

Laser eye surgery is a surgical form of vision correction. It’s performed by an ophthalmologist, which is a medical doctor who has further specialised in vision and the eyes. In most cases, an ophthalmologist offering laser surgery for vision correction will have done further training in refractive surgery. 

The aim of laser eye surgery is to offer patients a way of seeing clearly without the use of external optical aids, such as glasses or contact lenses. It achieves this through the use of laser technology. 

Similar to the way the glasses and contact lenses work, laser surgery changes the way that light bends through the eye. Because refractive error (and subsequently, unclear vision) occurs due to light not focusing on the right spot, laser eye surgery adjusts this passage of light to bring the focal point to the retina. It achieves this by reshaping the front surface of the eye known as the cornea. The adjusted shape of this surface then redirects how light bends as it passes through.

These are a few popular laser eye surgery techniques.

  • LASIK. Short for laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis. LASIK is perhaps one of the most commonly known laser surgery methods. During a LASIK procedure, a superficial flap of corneal tissue is created with either a femtosecond laser tool or a handheld instrument. By moving these layers aside, an excimer laser can then reshape the deeper corneal tissue. The flap is later repositioned and allowed to self-seal. techniques what is laser eye surgery melbourne
  • PRK. PRK is an older technique of laser eye surgery, however, it still holds a valuable place in modern refractive laser surgery. Standing for photorefractive keratectomy, PRK removes the superficial epithelium of the cornea for an excimer laser to perform the reshaping of the deeper tissues. These epithelial layers then regrow over the following week or so. 
  • SMILE laser eye surgery. Small incision lenticule extraction is one of the newest methods of laser surgery. Instead of removing the top layers of corneal tissue, a tiny incision is made instead. The femtosecond laser is used to form a disc-like sliver from the deeper tissues of the cornea, which is then removed via the keyhole incision. This results in the cornea being reshaped from the inside out with minimal disruption. 


Are You Eligible for Laser Eye Surgery?

If the answer to what is laser eye surgery has left you even more interested in the prospect of a life less dependent on glasses and contacts, it’s important to first check whether your eyes are suitable for laser surgery. Although your local optometrist will be able to give you an initial idea, this must be confirmed with your treating ophthalmologist. When deciding if you’re eligible for laser surgery, your eye care professional will consider several factors, including:

  • Your prescription. Although refractive surgery techniques have come a long way, there are still limits to the treatable prescription range. Many people with moderate long-sightedness (hyperopia), high short-sightedness (myopia), and even low to moderate astigmatism will find themselves suitable, depending on the surgery technique.
  • Your corneal thickness. The higher your prescription, the more corneal thickness is required for reshaping. For this reason, if you have particularly thin corneas, even though your script may be within the textbook treatable range, you may end up being deemed unsuitable. 
  • Any other ocular conditions. Treating your sight with refractive surgery will not restore any vision loss from other eye diseases. In some cases, your ophthalmologist may recommend against laser vision correction simply because it’s not worth it for the limited results. There are also certain eye diseases that may be exacerbated by the use of a laser on the cornea. 

In addition to meeting the above eligibility criteria, it’s important to discuss your expectations of refractive surgery with your ophthalmologist. Your eye specialist can then guide you in understanding what the surgery can and can’t offer you for your sight and lifestyle. 

Call us now on 03 9000 0389 for a consultation.



Note: Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.

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