Laser Eye Surgery: What’s Involved and Does it Really Work?
According to statistics, around 24 million people around the world have had laser eye surgery to improve their eyesight. The title is an umbrella term, referring to a variety of different techniques used to treat short-sightedness, long-sightedness and astigmatism.
Laser Eye Surgery: The Basics
Generally speaking, the surgery uses lasers to reshape your cornea, the transparent layer which covers the front of your eye. According to the NHS, there are four different types of surgery available:
- LASIK is the most common treatment, and corrects both long-sightedness and short-sightedness. If you’ve got a particularly high prescription, it might not be suitable for you. In this procedure, your surgeon will cut across your cornea, creating a flap which can be lifted up. They’ll then reshape the exposed area before replacing the flap.
- PRK or Photorefractive Keratectomy – This type of laser surgery is mainly reserved for those with low prescriptions and doesn’t require a flap of tissue to be cut.
- LASEK is quite similar to PRK, but involves the surface layer of the cornea being kept in place as a flap. This is believed to help speed up the healing process.
- Wavefront-guided LASIK. This is a bespoke form of LASIK that works on reducing naturally occurring irregularities in the eye, in addition to correcting your overall eyesight.
Most laser eye surgery is considered non-essential, and as a result, is not available on the NHS. Prices vary, but on average, you can expect to pay around £1,000 to £2,000.
Does Laser Surgery Work?
Laser eye surgery enjoys good success rates and is approved for use in the UK. However, the NHS specifically recommends only using a surgeon who is a registered ophthalmologist and who has specialist training in this type of surgery. Although the surgery has been approved and is relatively painful and quick to recover from, this isn’t to say that it’s not without its potential complications. Like all forms of surgery, there are risks involved.
With 100,000 people in the UK undergoing the surgery each year, the industry is enjoying great popularity; and some experts suggest that TV advertisements promoting laser eye surgery are not doing so in a responsible way.
Lois Roberts, a law graduate, was one such person who was lured in by the adverts, which made the surgery appear straightforward and simple. However, after the operation, she was left in considerable pain and still suffers with issues with dryness and discomfort.
‘I’m upset I wasn’t warned enough at my initial consultation that anything like this could happen,’ she says. ‘I would have thought much harder about it had I known the risks.’
Risk of Side-Effects
Around three-quarters of all patients enjoy perfect 20/20 vision after their surgery. However, a third are likely to still require glasses, and risks of further complications are around 5%. However, at certain private clinics, risks of complications can be as high as 40%, which is considerably more worrying.
Laser Eye Surgery: Do You Need it?
Laser eye surgery offers great benefits, particularly if poor eyesight has an adverse impact on your everyday life. However, it’s important to understand all the risks involved before making a decision. If you do decide to go ahead with the procedure, it’s also vital to book your treatment with a reputable, highly practiced ophthalmic surgeon.