What happens in a laser vision correction?
Before any laser vision correction, an in-depth examination must take place. After that, the laser treatment can be scheduled. You may choose between various laser treatments. The difference between these options is the specific location in the eye where the laser is applied.
With PRK/EpiLASIK, for example, the surface of the eye is treated. With the LASIK method, a small flap is made in the deeper layer of the cornea using a small blade or a laser; this flap is then folded back. With SMILE, the femtosecond laser works directly on the cornea without the need for a flap.
Types of laser treatment
Here is an overview of the different types of laser treatments.
- PRK or EpiLASIK
In this treatment, the superficial layer of the eye is removed first to then allow the excimer laser to do its work. This is why, immediately following the procedure, a therapeutic contact lens is placed in the eye to protect the wound. The patient is also advised to keep the eyes closed as much as possible for approximately 3 days, or 72 hours, following the treatment. During these 3 days, the eyes will burn, sting and tear, and you may find it difficult to tolerate bright light, so that watching television or reading a book becomes impossible. Dr. E. Mertens, in collaboration with 19 renowned, international top surgeons, has perfected the EpiLASIK method. During this procedure, only the most superficial layer (the epithelium, which makes up only 10% of the total thickness of the cornea) of the cornea is detached. While the visual acuity results with LASIK and EpiLASIK are permanent, the flap made during EpiLASIK is only temporary—it is only present until the healing process is complete. It reattaches permanently in less than a week’s time, as opposed to the flap made in the traditional LASIK treatment. People who play sports with a high risk of eye injury (boxing, judo, karate, kickboxing etc.) may undergo this treatment without any problems.
In this treatment, the entire procedure is performed using a laser. The difference between this and the regular LASIK treatment is in the making of the flap. Here, the ‘flap’ or ‘superficial layer’ is made using the femtosecond laser instead of with a blade. This results in even greater precision plus the added benefits of improved safety, better vision quality, better-lubricated eyes and a final result with an even lower chance of the need for re-treatment (< 0.3%). On account of these many benefits, this treatment is offered as the first option in our center.
‘SMILE’ stands for ‘Small Incision Lenticular Extraction’. This new technique—which is only possible using the VisuMax femtosecond laser—is the least invasive and most painless laser treatment available today. In the SMILE procedure, a small disc is first detached from the intact cornea using the laser. This disc is then removed through a small opening. The greatest benefit of ‘SMILE’ is the fact that the treatment takes place without the creation of a flap. This eliminates the chance of the flap shifting or developing folds.