Ask anyone about laser eye surgery, and LASIK is what usually comes to mind. While popular, LASIK — which stands for laser in-situ keratomileusis — is just one type of laser eye surgery, and it’s not the best choice for every eye problem.
At Advanced Eye Center in Hialeah, Florida, Rodrigo Belalcazar, MD, offers several types of laser eye surgery, so patients can get the most appropriate treatment to help them see their best. If you’re considering laser eye surgery, here’s a quick review to help you understand the options that are available.
Most people think about laser eye surgery in terms of the procedures used to treat refractive vision problems, such as myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), and astigmatism (blurry vision at all distances).
Refractive vision problems happen when the cornea, which is located at the front of the eye, is slightly misshapen, which causes light to bend when it enters the eye. As a result, the images appear blurry or distorted.
Both LASIK and PRK — which stands for photorefractive keratectomy — correct refractive vision problems by reshaping the cornea so light enters the eye without abnormal bending. The differences between the two approaches primarily have to do with how they access the cornea.
In a nutshell, LASIK uses a laser to create a flap of tissue that’s moved aside to access the cornea. The flap is then put back once the reshaping is complete. PRK removes the upper layer of tissue instead of creating a flap. The tissue then regrows as the eye heals.
While both procedures can produce excellent results, PRK may be a better choice if you have very thin corneas or very steep corneas, where making a flap could pose problems. It may also be a better option for people with chronic dry eye syndrome.
Lasers are also used to treat other eye-related problems, including two common causes of vision loss: glaucoma and cataracts.
Glaucoma causes damage to the optic nerve, which is the nerve that’s responsible for sending vision information to the brain. Glaucoma often occurs because the fluid drainage system gets blocked or compromised, which causes pressure to build up inside the eye.
While glaucoma can often be controlled with medication, sometimes surgery is needed to open up the blocked channels and improve drainage. Because of their precision, lasers are an ideal instrument to treat the tiny channels and reduce eye pressure.
The term cataract describes a condition that affects the eye’s natural lens. Located behind the pupil, your lens focuses light on the retina at the back of your eye, helping you see clearly.
With age, proteins inside the lens can start to clump together, which can cause the lens to become cloudy, and eventually, opaque. When that happens, light can’t reach the retina, and you develop problems with vision.
Cataract surgery removes the clouded lens and replaces it with a clear, artificial lens. During this surgery, Dr. Belalcazar may use lasers to make an incision to retrieve the damaged lens or to break up the old lens so it’s easier to remove.
Do you have vision problems? Dr. Belalcazar can give your eyes a thorough evaluation and discuss your next steps. To learn more, call 305-707-6011 or book an appointment online with Advanced Eye Center today.