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Deciding to have laser eye surgery is a big decision for many people, although over 30 million people worldwide have now had the treatment, freeing them from contact lenses and glasses.
Estimates suggest that up to 60% of the UK’s population require glasses or contact lenses, which includes nearly two million teenagers. The high number of those with bad vision can be put down to a number of factors, including an ever aging population, of which getting older is still the primary cause of poor eyesight.
But a lot of people will be confused by some of the terminology, and it is important to understand what the different treatments involve. The two main types, LASIK and LASEK have a number of similarities in what they aim to achieve. Both treatments aim to change the shape and power of the front part of the eye – the cornea, which is the clear window of tissue overlying the iris and the pupil. The more effectively light can pass through these, the clearer you vision.
But there are also some major differences, and here they are.
LASIK laser eye surgery is a more invasive procedure. The treatment involves creating a flap in the cornea so that the laser can be applied to the tissue underneath. Once this is finished, the flap is put back in place.
This type of surgery is generally considered more risky, purely as the surgery is slightly more invasive than LASEK. Despite this, only a tiny percentage of patients will ever have any issues following LASIK surgery, especially if you are treated by a top ophthalmologist. Any issues that do occur can always be corrected by the surgeon.
Despite the more invasive nature of the treatment, LASIK surgery patients recover a lot quicker as the epithelium requires less time to heal. Many patients can return to work after just a day or two recovery, and will only feel minor discomfort following surgery that can take just ten minutes.
In LASEK surgery, the surgeon simply loosens the top layer of the cornea and moves it aside. After the laser has finished treating the tissue below, the outer layer is carefully placed back and left to heal over time.
LASEK is generally less invasive as the surgeon doesn’t have to create a flap to carry out the treatment.
The healing time for LASEK surgery is longer however as the epithelium has to heal, and many patients will require around a week off work.
So which should you go for?
Your optometrist will ultimately have the final say in which surgery will be best for your eyes. He or she may feel that a less invasive approach would be better, yet can also consider your required healing time, and when you need to be back on your feet.
Asking your surgeon about any concerns is always the best way forward. A-class clinics such as Freedom Vision will always be upfront with the patient, and let you know if you won’t really benefit from the treatment.