For many people, refractive eye surgery can correct their vision so that they no longer need glasses or contact lenses. Refractive eye surgery reshapes the cornea, which is the clear front part of the eye, changing its focusing power. Refractive eye surgery has worked for many people, but comes with inherent dangers and risks. If not performed properly, it can have devastating consequences – from blurry vision to loss of vision. Refractive eye surgery has evolved rapidly over the last 25 years.
Radial Keratotomy: Popularly known as RK, this procedure was used in the United States primarily during the 1980s. This procedure involved making several incisions to flatten the eye’s surface to correct nearsightedness with a diamond blade. However, the results created problems for some patients. Some side effects of RK include night vision problems, fluctuating vision, glare and regression. This procedure is now virtually obsolete because of advancement in other laser vision correction procedures.
Photorefractive Keratectomy: Also known as PRK, this was the first successful laser vision correction procedure to ablate, or remove, tissue directly from the eye’s surface to change the curvature of the cornea. In PRK, the epithelium is scraped off the surface of the eye. Then, a laser is applied to reshape the cornea. This procedure, also known as surface ablation, received FDA approval in 1995. Although PRK is still used, LASIK is the more popular laser vision correction procedure. PRK has made a comeback in recent years because of studies that indicate that PRK and LASIK have similar outcomes. Yet PRK has less risks of complication as no flap is created. Thus for patients with thinner corneas, PRK is safer. However, PRK has its drawbacks, including longer healing time and increased pain associated with the surgery.
LASIK: Short for Laser-Assisted in situ Keratomileusis, LASIK is very much like PRK except that a thin, hinged flap is made in the eye’s surface using a microkeratome or an IntraLase laser. The flap is then lifted and laser energy is applied underneath to reshape the eye. The flap is then replaced and functions as a natural bandage. With LASIK, the advantage is that there is little or no discomfort immediately after the procedure. There are different forms of LASIK depending on how the flap is created:
- LASIK involved creating an extremely thin hinged flap in the thin outer covering of the eye and floating it away from the eye’s surface with alcohol so that the laser reshaping of the eye can happen.
- Epi-LASIK is very much like LASEK except that a special cutting tool is used to lift the flap.
- All-Laser LASIK (IntraLase) involves the use of a laser to create the flap, rather than a microkeratome (blade), which is used to create the flap in LASIK.
- Wavefront (“Custom”) LASIK incorporates modern analysis known as wavefront to measure precisely how light travels through the eye. Excimer lasers with built-in wavefront analysis can detect and automatically adjust for subtle vision errors when laser energy is applied to reshape the cornea. Studies suggest wavefront-guided LASIK helps maintain contrast sensitivity and reduces the risk of night glare after LASIK surgery.
With any type of laser eye surgery things can go wrong very quickly, especially in the hands of an inexperienced or negligent surgeon. These surgeries are being done at such as fast pace at eye centers that sometimes surgeons do not take the time they should take to screen patients. This results in errors and complications that could make patients’ lives miserable.
If you or a loved one has been the victim of careless refractive eye surgery or poor screening on the part of a surgeon, please contact nationally recognized LASIK malpractice lawyer Todd J. Krouner at (914) 238-5800 or firstname.lastname@example.org to find out whether you have a claim. In such cases, injured victims are able to seek compensation to cover loss of vision, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other related damages.