Laser Eye Surgery: Kelowna Optometrist Answers Common Questions
If you struggle with wearing contacts or prescription glasses, you may be interested in refractive surgery (also known as laser eye surgery). Orchard Park Optometry works closely with local refractive surgeons, to provide you with consultations before, and after surgery. We can advise you if you’re a good candidate for refractive surgery, and refer you to the best, most trusted surgeons in the Okanagan Valley.
How does laser eye surgery work?
Laser eye surgery is a process that improves vision and reduces or eliminates the need for glasses or contact lenses. The procedure corrects common refractive eye issues by altering the shape of the cornea, which is the transparent front covering the eye.
During the procedure, your eye surgeon will create a corneal flap on your eye, and then will pull back the flap to expose the underlying corneal tissue. Don’t worry though, you’ll only feel a bit of pressure for less than a minute, and no pain.The laser will then begin reshaping the cornea in a unique, pre-specified pattern for each patient. After the laser is finished, the flap is gently positioned onto the underlying cornea.
Does laser eye surgery hurt?
Before the surgery begins, numbing eye drops will be administered to your eyes. As mentioned previously, during the first step of the surgery when the surgeon creates the protective corneal flap, you won’t feel any pain. Just a bit of pressure for less than a minute.
After the surgery when the numbing eye drops wear off, its normal to experience sensitivity to light which may cause mild discomfort and cause your eyes to water for a few hours. However, you shouldn’t need more than normal non-prescription painkillers to alleviate any discomfort.
What are refractive errors?
So, chances are you know laser eye surgery is used to correct refractive errors. But you may be wondering, what exactly is a refractive error? Refractive errors occur when the eye doesn’t bend light correctly, resulting in a blurred image. The main types include myopia, hyperopia and astigmatism.
If you have myopia, seeing objects that are at a distance may be difficult to see. This is also known as nearsightedness. This refractive error is usually inherited and discovered in childhood. The condition often progresses throughout teenage years when the body is growing rapidly.
Hyperopia, also known as farsightedness, indicates that you can see objects far away better than close-up. Children often have hyperopia which may lessen in adulthood. This condition can be inherited, and in the advanced stages of hyperopia, vision may be blurry at all distances.
Astigmatism usually occurs if the front surface of the eye (the cornea), has an asymmetrical curve. Usually, the cornea is smooth and curved equally in all directions, allowing light entering to focus on all places in all directions. However, astigmatism means the front surface of the cornea is curved more in one direction than another. This abnormality results in vision that is comparable to looking into a distorted, wavy mirror.
Do I qualify for laser eye surgery?
If you suffer from any of the refractive errors mentioned above, you may be considering laser eye surgery. Ultimately, you should have a conversation with your optometrist to discuss if laser eye surgery is right for you. However, here are a few things you may need to keep in mind to ensure you are a suitable candidate for this surgery.
Because this surgery only fixes vision at one point in time and doesn’t keep your eyes from changing, you will need to have maintained the same prescription for at least a year.You must also have healthy eyes. You must not be experiencing glaucoma, infections, cataracts, severe dry eye or any other condition that may affect postoperative healing. You must also be an adult (21 or older, with some exceptions). If you are pregnant or nursing the hormonal changes you experience during this time affect the shape of your eye, and you must wait until you are no longer pregnant or nursing. Also, you must not have any degenerative or autoimmune diseases as this can affect the post-surgery healing.
Laser eye surgery aftercare
First, you should make sure you have someone to drive you home after surgery. As previously mentioned, once the numbing eye drops wear off you will experience sensitivity to light, and watery eyes for several hours after. Although your vision may be clear immediately afterwards, blurriness is common for several hours after. Acquiring good vision may take between 2-7 days, while full recovery may take at least 6 months.
Also, it is recommended that you avoid any screens, including TV screens, phone screens, and computer screens for a day afterwards as they can cause eyestrain and seriously affect the healing process. It is also recommended that you refrain from activities that include chemicals, dirt, or dust getting in your eyes for 4-5 weeks afterwards. This includes swimming, whirlpools, saunas or contact sports.
What type of eye surgery is right for me?
There are many different types of laser eye surgery at many different prices. We recommend you talk to your optometrist to find out what’s best for you. Everyone’s eyes are unique, and what may have worked for a friend or family member may not be what’s best for you. The reason there are different price points is that everyone’s prescriptions differ, and everyone has different eye health considerations. Some procedures are more expensive than others.
Are you considering refractive surgery? Book a consultation with Orchard Park Optometry today to find out if you’re a good candidate.