How Does Laser Eye Treatment Work?

Laser eye treatment offers many benefits to patients and is wildly popular as an elective surgery. Yet for all its popularity, the surgery is not always well understood. As you should never agree to a procedure that you don’t fully understand, this article will review the basic mechanics of laser treatment for eyes.

The key thing to keep in mind is that there are two factors that impact your vision. The first factor is the shape of your eye. The second factor is your age. Laser eye treatments address the first of these two factors. No cure has yet been found for the second, but doctors are working on it!

How does it work?

Laser surgery focuses on improving vision by reshaping the eye. The reshaping is accomplished by targeting a specific portion of the eye, as reshaping the whole eye would be too complex. The cornea of the eye is the element that is reshaped by surgery.

According to the University of Wisconsin Medical Center, the cornea is responsible for 65% of the eye’s refractive power. In layman’s terms, that means the cornea handles the bulk of the light bending that is needed to give you a clear picture of the world. Even small changes in the shape and texture of the cornea can have a major impact on your focus and vision.

What Happens During the Procedure?

During a laser eye treatment, trained doctors use a specially designed blade to cut a small flap to access the cornea. They lift this flap and then use a specially designed laser to work on the cornea of your eye to create a new shape that will give you better vision. Then they replace the flap, smooth it into place over the reshaped area, and set it to heal.

The whole process will be mapped out before any cutting takes place using a measured picture of your eye. It is an incredibly precise topographic map, like a 3-D model of a landscape, only better. Doctors measure changes that need to be made not in inches or millimeters but in micrometers! The tiny, tiny levels of change needed to improve your focus are dependent on the shape, age and health of your eye, and also why occasionally some treatments need to be touched up later. Everyone heals differently and sometimes quarters and halves of micrometers will make the difference.

The tiny measurements are also why the lasers used in the surgery are constantly remapping the position of your eye. The most commonly used surgical laser for eye treatments, the Excimer laser, remaps your eye position up to 4,000 times per second during surgery. The speed of the laser and the small operating area means that the total surgery time may be less than 30 minutes.

What Takes Place After Surgery?

After your laser eye treatment, you will be given antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drops for your eyes. Some patients even wear special medicated contact lenses for a few weeks after the surgery. Most people heal completely within just a few weeks and go on to enjoy a lifetime of good vision as a result of their choice to have laser eye treatments.


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