A Comprehensive Guide to Refractive Eye Surgery

Overview of Refractive Eye Surgery

Refractive surgery is usually performed to improve eyesight & reduce the dependence on glasses.  Technically, correcting the eye’s refractive error (spectacle power) is the primary function of this procedure. It is performed in a patient with stable refraction (glass power).

Refractive eye surgery solves common eyesight problems, such as nearsightedness (myopia), farsightedness (hyperopia), and astigmatism. Different surgical treatments are available for aligning or adjusting the eye’s focusing ability by reshaping the cornea. Before performing any actual treatment, specific tests are performed to determine whether the surgery cab be performend or not, on a patient. If selected, the procedure can be performed after the person’s informed consent.

Some procedures of refractive eye surgery includes Lasik, PRK, SMILE and ICL. It’s an entirely painless procedure done by the qualified Ophthalmologists.

Who can opt for Refractive Eye treatment?

Refractive eye surgery is usually recommended for people with:-

A stable prescription: It is important for the individual’s vision to have stabilized before undergoing refractive eye treatment. Vision changes caused by factors such as hormonal fluctuations or pregnancy should be resolved before considering the procedure of refractive surgery.

18+ of Age: The surgery is typically performed on people over 18, as the prescription gets stabilized by this age. 

Overall Good Eye Health: A person should not have eye problems such as glaucoma, cataracts, or severe dry eye syndrome.

Normal shape of the cornea: A person of normal shape of cornea with adequate thickness is also required for a patient to be a candidate for refractive surgery.

Types of Refractive Eye Errors

Refractive eye errors are a common cause of vision problems and can occur due to various factors. Here are the primary types of refractive errors:

  • Nearsightedness (Myopia): Nearsighted individuals have difficulty seeing distant objects clearly. This occurs when the eyeball is longer than usual or the cornea (the clear front part of the eye) is excessively curved. As a result, light entering the eye focuses in front of the retina instead of directly on it.
  • Farsightedness (Hyperopia): Farsighted individuals have difficulty seeing nearby objects clearly. This happens when the eyeball is shorter than normal or the cornea is flatter. Consequently, light entering the eye focuses behind the retina instead of directly on it.
  • Astigmatism: Astigmatism is a condition in which the cornea or lens has an irregular shape, causing blurred vision at a particular axis. The irregular shape prevents the light entering the eye from focusing correctly on the retina, resulting in distorted or fuzzy vision.

Types of Refractive Eye Surgeries

  • LASIK Eye Surgery
    Laser In Situ Keratomileusis (LASIK) is a refractive eye treatment where a laser beam is used to reshape the cornea, which assists in focusing the light onto the retina, which results in clearer vision. In this procedure, a flap is made and an excimer laser reshapes the cornea so that it can focus light on the retina and the need for glasses is alleviated. The flap can be made with the help of a blade/microkeratome or a femtosecond laser. The flap is then washed and put in place without any stitches.

  • Photorefractive Keratectomy (PRK) / Surface Ablation/ Touchless Lasik Photorefractive Keratectomy (PRK) or Surface Ablation is a vision correction surgery removing epithelium. The top layer of the cornea or the epithelium is removed with the help of a blade and the excimer laser reshapes the cornea. The layer grows in 2 days. The entire procedure can be done with the laser without the use of a blade and is then called transPRK.
  • SMILE Refractive Surgery Small Incision Lenticule Extraction (SMILE) is a modern refractive surgery technique involving a laser to create a small incision on the cornea. In this refractive surgery, a lenticular, a small cornea tissue, is cut using the laser. Then, the lenticular is removed, and the eye is cleaned.
  • ICL or Refractive Lens Replacement Implantable Collamer Lens (ICL) is a surgical procedure where a lens with the desired power is implanted inside the eye and placed on top of the natural lens of the eye.

Benefits of Refractive Eye Treatment

Refractive eye surgery offers several advantages:

  • Quick Recovery and Minimal Discomfort: Refractive eye treatments are typically outpatient procedures that require minimal downtime. Recovery time varies, but many patients experience significant improvement in vision within a few days or weeks. Discomfort during the healing process is generally mild and manageable.
  • Improved Visual Acuity: The surgery corrects refractive errors and helps in improving visual acuity.
  • Convenience and Lifestyle Enhancement: Not wearing glasses or contact lenses can make your life hassle-free. The treatment allows people to effortlessly enjoy sports, swimming, or simply waking up with a clear vision.