What is Refractive Surgery?

Refractive Surgery

What is Refractive Surgery?

The first known records on the science of optometry date back to two thousand B.C.E; but, optometry as a health profession has come a long way since then. For centuries the only way to correct vision was with eyeglasses. While your Kelowna optometrist is still the best place to start when experiencing vision issues, we now have many effective treatments, such as refractive surgeries.

There are many types of refractive surgeries that can help nearsightedness, astigmatism, presbyopia, or farsightedness. Refractive surgery corrects or improves these conditions by reshaping the cornea with laser technology or the surgical insertion of a lens in the eye.

Types of Refractive Surgery

What is Laser Surgery

The most widely performed type of refractive surgery is LASIK. There are two types of LASIK surgery: optimized, also known as conventional, and wave-front guided. Optimized LASIK surgery corrects vision by reshaping the cornea using a computer-controlled excimer cold laser. The laser cuts a flap in the center of the cornea, then, a thin layer of tissue is removed; this flattens the cornea to a shape that improves light refraction on the retina. The flap is replaced without stitches, and it reattaches to the cornea within minutes. This procedure is fast and causes minimal discomfort.

Wave-front guided LASIK measures light distortions of the eye with a more advanced technology, which provides more accurate results. The technology allows the surgeon to set the laser more accurately. This technology has been proven to give sharper vision and reduce problems with contrast sensitivity and night vision. Our expert staff at Orchard Park Optometry would be happy to provide more information if you have questions.

Photorefractive Keractectomy (PRK)

Photorefractive Keractectomy surgery, more commonly known as PRK, also uses an excimer laser. However, in this procedure the laser reshapes the cornea by removing small amounts of tissue from the outer surface instead of cutting a flap in the center. This eye surgery works best for mild to moderate cases of myopia, but it can take up to a few weeks to heal completely.

Phakic Intraocular Lens Surgery

While laser surgery works well for mild to moderate refraction problems, more severe vision loss may need refractive surgery that replaces or adds a lens to the natural eye lens. Phakic Intraocular Lenses (IOLs) is a treatment that can improve vision for people who have high degrees of nearsightedness or farsightedness. This procedure involves an implantable contact lens that is placed inside the eye, in front or behind the iris. It augments the eye’s natural lens to improve light refraction by redirecting light rays directly and precisely onto the retina.

Refractive Lens Exchange

Unlike the preceding optometry terms, refractive lens exchange is exactly what it sounds like. Also known as Clear Lens Extraction or CLE, during this procedure, an artificial lens replaces the eye’s natural lens to improve vision. This treatment often uses multifocal lenses or accommodative intraocular lenses (IOLs) which provide the ability to focus at all distances, unlike contact lenses. RLE is often recommended for people with severe farsightedness and for the treatment of cataracts.

Is Refractive Surgery Right For You?

Your ophthalmologist can advise you on whether refractive surgery is the right choice for you, and which treatment is the best type of refractive surgery for your eyesight.

If you have health issues or a history of eye infections, it may not be the best form of treatment.

To determine if any of these procedures are right for you, you will need to undergo a thorough eye exam where your ophthalmologist will check:

  • The health of your eyes
  • The size of your pupils
  • Measurements of your cornea
  • The refractive error

Then, your Kelowna ophthalmologist will advise you on the best treatment to correct your vision, and before long you might be saying goodbye glasses and hello 20/20 vision.


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