Will Laser Eye Surgery Hurt Or Help You?

    LASIK & PRK: The Most Common Vision Surgery Options

    How LASIK Works

    LASIK reshapes the cornea, the clear, rounded surface of the eye, so it does a better job of focusing the light that enters the eye. The eyeball is held in place by a suction ring and the cornea is lifted and flattened. The surgeon cuts a small, hinged flap in the cornea and folds it back. Then an excimer laser — an ultraviolet light beam — reshapes the cornea based on your pre-op eye exam. The corneal flap is folded back in place.

    Wavefront-Guided LASIK

    This newer form of LASIK is more precise than standard LASIK. It’s also more expensive. Before surgery, the doctor creates a detailed map of your eyes using an “aberrometer.” This records even the tiniest imperfections in the cornea. In theory, this method gives better results and better vision. And in some studies, wavefront patients reported less trouble with night vision than those who had conventional LASIK.

    PRK, Epi-LASIK, and LASEK

    Surgeons operate directly on the surface of the cornea in these laser eye surgeries, rather than working under a flap. These procedures correct the same vision problems as LASIK, but may be a better option for people with thin corneas or preexisting dry eyes. Recovery time is longer and less comfortable than for LASIK. Patients usually wear a contact lens “bandage” for three to five days after the procedure.

    Implantable Lenses: An Additional Vision-Correction Option

    If you can’t get laser surgery because of a strong prescription, artificial lenses — called phakic intraocular lenses (PIOLs) — may be an option. They’re FDA approved for treating nearsightedness. The lenses are made of silicone or plastic and are surgically placed in front of the eye’s natural lens. Possible risks include loss of vision, night vision problems, and additional surgery to adjust, remove, or replace lenses.

    Risks of Laser Eye Surgery

    No surgery is risk-free. Many of the common side effects, such as dry eye or other discomforts, clear up within days to a few months. But some can require further surgery or cause permanent damage. Some of the more common risks of LASIK and PRK include:

    • Permanent dry eye
    • Halos, glare, or double vision — making night driving difficult
    • Over- or under-correction of vision, requiring glasses or contacts after surgery.
    • Markedly reduced vision or, very rarely, loss of vision

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