At The Eye Health Centre, we care about your eyes as much as you do. Our eye doctors want you to have the perfectly clear, independent vision you need to enjoy life’s simple pleasures and greatest adventures. With our experience and advanced technology, we can help you find a permanent solution to refractive errors.
What Laser Eye Surgery Treats (Understanding Refractive Errors)
A refractive error is a problem with the way your cornea bends, or refracts, light onto your retina. An abnormal corneal surface prevents light entering your eye from coming into proper focus with your retina. The result is fuzzy or blurry vision that can be temporarily corrected with traditional contact lenses or eyeglasses.
Myopia, or nearsightedness, is a vision condition in which nearby objects appear clear while distant objects appear blurry. This occurs when the cornea is too curved or the eyeball is longer than normal, causing light entering the eye to focus in front of the retina.
With hyperopia, or farsightedness, distant objects appear clear while nearby objects appear blurry. It happens when the cornea is not curved enough or the eyeball is shorter than normal, focusing incoming light behind the retina.
Astigmatism causes objects at all distances to appear blurry or distorted. It develops when the cornea is irregularly shaped. Instead of a normal round shape, the cornea curves more in one direction than the other.
If you have a refractive error, there are several vision correction options.
Historically, refractive errors have been temporarily corrected with the use of contact lenses or eyeglasses. But many people find these visual aids to be an inconvenience or burden. At The Eye Health Centre, we offer more permanent corrective options. After learning more about you, your eyes and your lifestyle, we will help you select the solution that best aligns with your needs and goals.
Laser Eye Surgery Options
LASIK, short for “laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis,” is the most commonly performed laser eye surgery. A femtosecond laser is used to create a flap in the outer layer of corneal cells. Then, the flap is folded back and an excimer laser reshapes the underlying tissue.
SMILE, short for “small incision lenticule extraction,” is the newest laser vision correction procedure. A femtosecond laser creates and removes a small disc of tissue beneath the cornea’s surface to improve its shape. SMILE is currently recommended only in cases of nearsightedness.
PRK, short for “photorefractive keratectomy,” is the first generation of refractive surgery. In the experience of our laser eye surgeons, it offers great results with minimal risk. During surgery, the surface layer of corneal cells is gently removed and an excimer laser reshapes the underlying tissue. Flap-free laser correction with PRK improves visual clarity without compromising the biomechanical strength of the eye or introducing the possibility of flap-related complications.
Implantable Contact Lenses
If you are not a suitable candidate for laser eye surgery, implantable contact lenses (ICLs) are a safe and effective alternative. Similar to permanent contact lenses, intraocular contact lenses are permanently placed between the eye’s iris and natural lens rather than on the surface of the eye. No eye tissue is removed and the lenses can be removed or replaced if vision changes.
Refractive Lens Exchange
Refractive lens exchange replaces the eye’s natural lens with an intraocular lens implant (IOL) to correct a refractive error. The procedure is virtually identical to cataract surgery, except the lens being replaced is clear and not cloudy. If you decide to undergo refractive lens exchange, our ophthalmologists will help you explore your IOL options and find the right choice for your needs.
Laser Eye Surgery Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best laser eye surgery option for me?
The procedure that is right for you depends on your specific refractive error, the severity of your refractive error, your unique eye anatomy and your treatment goals. Our team of doctors has many years of experience helping candidates like you find the most appropriate solution.
How soon after surgery will I be able to see?
Visual recovery varies by patient and by procedure. Most of our patients are able to see clearly within a few days of surgery. Minor visual fluctuations are normal after surgery, and your vision should improve day by day.
When can I drive after laser eye surgery?
You will not be able to drive yourself home from laser eye surgery, so please make arrangements for a friend or family member to take you. Most of our patients see well enough the day after surgery to confidently drive.
Are LASIK results permanent?
The improvements made during LASIK are permanent. Once corneal tissue has been removed, it cannot grow back.
However, LASIK does not prevent or delay other age-related changes from occurring in the visual system. Most notably, LASIK does not prevent the development of presbyopia (age-related loss of reading vision that happens after the age of 40) or cataracts (clouding of the lens that happens after the age of 60).
If I have RLE, will I need cataract surgery when I am older?
No. The artificial lens placed during RLE cannot develop cataracts.
How is SMILE different from LASIK and PRK?
SMILE does not involve the creation of a corneal flap or the removal of the surface corneal cells. During SMILE, a small lenticule of corneal tissue is removed to reshape the cornea and improve the eye’s focusing power. Although the results of SMILE are comparable to those of LASIK and PRK, patients do not have to worry about flap-based complications.
Will I be awake during laser eye surgery?
Yes. Your eyes will be numbed with anesthetic drops and you will be given an oral sedative medication to relax you. You should not feel any pain or discomfort during surgery, and the procedure will be over very quickly.
What is the difference between implantable contact lenses and refractive lens exchange?
Implantable contact lenses work with the natural structures of your eyes to enable clear vision. They can be removed if needed.
Refractive lens exchange involves removing your natural lens. Due to the way the procedure is performed, it is irreversible.
Schedule a Laser Eye Consultation At The Eye Health Centre
If you are looking for more information about your vision correction options, we invite you to schedule an appointment with our team. Call or email us today.
No procedure is entirely risk free. Adverse effects from any eye procedure include infection, bleeding and further eye problems. Dr Andrew Apel and his staff will be happy to discuss these with you at any time. The information provided on this website is for general education only and should not be construed as individual medical advice. For advice relevant to your particular situation, please speak to Dr Andrew Apel.