By: Mr Alex Shortt– Optegra Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon
Is your eyesight letting you down? Perhaps you one of the 17% of UKadults in our research who say their poor vision has stopped them living their life to the full or even one of the 18% who describe their poor vision as a disability.
If so, then you don’t need to suffer in silence – there will be an option to suit your vision correction needs whatever your age or eye prescription and a local specialist eye hospital can help you make that decision with a free consultation.
Laser eye surgery, for example, is ideal for those who are affected by short sighted, long sighted or astigmatism, where the shape of the eye affects focusing power.
Short-sightedness can range from mild, where treatment may not be required, to severe, where objects will appear blurry. Long-sightedness can significantly cause headaches and tiredness due to ‘over-focus’ and lead to double vision.
Depending on the seriousness of the problem contact lenses or glasses can be worn but some people may find it less of a hassle to have laser eye surgery.
But what does that entail exactly?
Laser eye surgery is a type of treatment that corrects poor vision to give you a life without glasses or contact lenses. It’s a rapid procedure which can be done in just a few minutes, and without any discomfort.
A state-of-the-art laser is used to reshape the surface of the eye (called the cornea) and rectify imperfections to give you a vision. Thanks to the latest advancement in technology, laser eye surgery is now completely safe and the most popular elective surgery in the world.
These technological advances also mean there are a range of options to consider for laser eye surgery, but don’t worry – your consultant will talk through which option is right for you.
Types of laser eye surgery to consider
LASIK – The most popular and well-known type of laser surgery, LASIK is a two-stage procedure that involves the creation of a thin flap of your cornea (the clear part of your eye) using a laser. This is followed by precise reshaping of your cornea based on the exact amount of refractive correction required to create your perfect vision. It is suitable for people who are short-sighted, long-sighted or with astigmatism.
LASEK – In this treatment, the surgeon removes a very thin layer of corneal tissue before treating the surface of your cornea with a laser. It is not a suitable treatment for astigmatism and is generally suitable for people with less serious eye focusing problems, thin corneas, or dry eyes.
ReLEx SMILE – This is the most advanced and minimally invasive laser eye surgery treatment. It is a bladeless procedure so there is no flap and recovery is speedy. The procedure takes a matter of minutes, and vision is 80 per cent better within a few hours. After a few days, the vision is excellent, and it reaches 100 per cent within a few weeks (According to trials conducted on over 1,000 patients between the UK, Germany, France and Denmark).
PRESBYOND® is a new treatment solution for presbyopia at Optegra. It combines wavefront-guided LASIK and monovision (where one eye is treated for distance vision and the other for near vision). Leading-edge laser technology is used to create a blend zone customised to your eye, allowing you to achieve clear intermediate vision as well as distance and near, reducing or even eliminating the need for glasses.
Zeiss Visumax800. This is the newest and fastest femtosecond laser on the market. Optegra London is the first clinic in the UK to be able to offer treatment with this laser and the most advanced SMILE Pro software. This laser makes ReLex SMILE faster, easier and more comfortable than ever before.
What can I expect in the treatment room?
Whichever laser eye surgery treatment you are recommended, there is one thing they all have in common – speed! For example, with LASIK the total time spent in the laser treatment room is around 10 minutes. The actual time the laser takes to do its job is no more than one minute, with results lasting decades. ReLEx Smile is completed in under five minutes and has the added advantages that the laser is silent.
You may also be concerned about pain or someone being close to your eye. However, anaesthetic eye drops are applied before the procedure so you won’t feel any pain, in fact you don’t feel very much at all other than a little pressure. Many patients say the treatment is much easier than a visit to the dental hygienist! The surgeon will see you for a follow up the next day and then again typically between one-two weeks later.
I’m fed up with wearing glasses or lenses – what should I do?
Many people are happy wearing glasses or contact lenses for many years, but with regimes for safe contact lenses to deal with alongside common frustrations with wearing glasses (e.g. sporting hobbies), it could be time to take the leap in to laser.
Like Saam, 27, who had been wearing glasses for 20 years, starting in Year 2 at school. By the time he reached Year 5, he found that playing sport in glasses was annoying so he switched to contact lenses. “I was quite young to be wearing lenses but it was easier for me to play football without the hassle of glasses getting steamed up and muddy” says Saam.
As he grew older and participated in more sporting hobbies, including tennis and swimming, he became increasingly frustrated with his lenses.“They never felt comfortable and I was always worrying where they were. On holidays, I would get very dry eyes wearing lenses and couldn’t be spontaneous” he says.
After SMILE surgery, Saam was delighted. “As soon as I walked out of the hospital I could see straight away. It was amazing!” he said. “I put on sunglasses as it was a sunny day and I couldn’t believe that I had perfect vision so soon after the treatment. I met the surgeon the next day for a follow up consultation and he said I had better than 20/20 vision – I didn’t even know that was possible! I was out with friends the next night as if nothing had happened.”