The eye is an extremely complex organ, which converts light energy from the light rays entering the eye into electrical impulses, which are then carried to the brain through the optic nerve. Since the eye contains a number of different important components, various eye problems can arise as a result of one or more components being damaged by disease or injury. While some of these problems can be corrected through non-invasive procedures, some might need surgical intervention. Therefore, there are different types of eye surgery to correct each of these problems.
The different forms of eye surgery can be classified in different ways. One of the ways of categorization is according to the condition that they aim to treat. In other words, they can be classified according to the particular component in the eye that the surgery is performed upon. For instance, cataract surgery is performed on the lens in the eye. LASIK surgery on the other hand is performed on the cornea of the eye. So, the eye surgery can be classified based on the particular component of the eye that it aims to correct.
Another form of classification is whether or not lasers are used in the surgery. Before the invention of the laser, all surgeries were performed with a scalpel for cutting through the skin and various tissues. But with the advent of the laser, a number of surgeries are performed using the laser to accomplish many procedures. So, the use of traditional methods versus the use of lasers is another form of classifying eye surgeries. Surgeries using a laser would normally cost more than those done with traditional methods. And again, some kinds of laser equipment are more expensive than others. This would again influence the cost of the surgical treatment procedure.
We will now explore the different types of eye surgery.
Non-laser Eye Surgeries
In these invasive procedures, a blade is used to make incisions in the cornea or to reshape the cornea. Low heat radio waves are also used in these procedures. Among the different surgical procedures performed, the implantation of intraocular lenses or implantable contact lenses and astigmatic keratotomy incisions are probably the most common types of eye surgeries performed without the use of lasers. This types of surgeries called non laser eye surgery.
Astigmatic Keratotomy Incisions
Mild astigmatism can be corrected using this procedure. Portions of the cornea are reshaped during the procedure with the help of a blade. This type of surgery is normally performed in conjunction with various other types of surgeries for the eye.
Implantable Contact Lenses
People with severe long sight and short sight can be treated by this procedure. During this procedure, an implantable contact lens in inserted into the eye and positioned behind the iris and in front of the normal lens. Unlike the usual contact lenses, these stay inside the eyes and don’t require constant care.
This kind of lens is normally used to replace the natural human lens that gets affected by cataract or other eye conditions. An incision is made in the cornea and the old affected lens is removed and replaced with an intraocular lens in its place. Surgeons have been performing this kind of surgery for several decades now. Earlier, these lenses used to allow people to see clearly only objects that were far away. The development of lens technology has improved considerably and patients can now see objects at varying distances clearly.
Non-laser Eye Surgery
These are very similar to the traditional methods of eye surgery except for the fact that they use lasers for most of the sculpting work.
Laser Cataract Surgery
The cataract is a blobby formation of protein in the lens of the eye which can get thicker and more opaque with the passage of time. To correct this condition, the affected lens has to be removed and replaced with an intraocular lens in its place as mentioned above. Lasers are now used effectively to perform cataract surgeries. The laser is used to first melt the cataract in the lens. A small incision is then made in the cornea with a blade and the debris is sucked out using vacuum pressure. An intraocular lens is then inserted through the incision and placed in position. The latest intraocular lenses are foldable and so require a very tiny incision through which they can be inserted into the eye. The incision is made in such as way that it self-seals and needs no sutures.
LASIK is an acronym for Laser-Assisted In Situ Keratomileusis. Eye problems such as short sight, long sight and astigmatism can be corrected using this procedure. In this kind of surgery, the surgeon cuts a flap on the outer layer and middle layer of the cornea and folds the flap over to expose the inner tissue under the flap. An excimer laser is then used to precisely remove certain portions of the tissue under the flap to reshape the cornea. The flap is then placed back in position and left to heal naturally.
LASEK is an acronym for Laser Epithelial Keratomileusis and is very similar to LASIK. In this type of surgery, the flap is made only from the epithelium, which is the outermost layer of the cornea. Patients who have a thin cornea on whom LASIK cannot be performed can opt for LASEK. This procedure can take a longer to heal and produces a slightly higher discomfort level.
PRK is short for Photorefractive Keratectomy and can be treat short sight and astigmatism. It can also be used to correct mild to moderate levels of long sight. In this procedure, a flap is not cut in the cornea. Instead, portions of tissue from the outer layer of the cornea are removed to reshape the cornea.
While laser surgery is gaining popularity, some patients and even some surgeons prefer the traditional methods of surgery. Patients need to discuss the different types of eye surgery clearly with their surgeon to choose the procedure that would be suitable for their specific needs and expectations.