Published on Apr 20, 2018 and last reviewed on Oct 28, 2019 - 3 min read
Refractive surgery is one of the fastest evolving areas in medical technology. It comes under the broad category of esthetic surgeries and has come a long way since its conception. In this article, I try my best to answer the commonly asked questions from patients interested in refractive surgery.
Refractive surgery is one of the fastest evolving areas in medical technology. It is opted by patients to correct their eyesight problems. The main reason it has become so popular these days is better post-operative results that we can expect to get from these procedures, which we could not have a few years ago.
So, Should You Consider Refractive Surgery?
The answer depends on your daily needs and activity. If you are an image-conscious person, always in the limelight, an active person who indulges in physical sports, or a person who merely finds wearing glasses uncomfortable, then yes, you should go ahead.
What Is the Advantage of Refractive Surgery over Contact Lenses? I Can Stay Free from Glasses with Contact Lenses Too, Correct?
Soft contact lenses are always recommended for occasional use and never for regular use. There are several problems which can arise on wearing contact lenses on a regular basis including frequent eye infections, corneal warpage, corneal thinning, giant papillary conjunctivitis and also a few severe problems like corneal neovascularization.
If you plan to stay glass-free, then refractive surgery is the best option, not contact lenses.
Is There Any Harm in Wearing Glasses Instead of Getting a Refractive Surgery Done?
There is no harm in wearing glasses. It is the most frequent mode of correcting refractive errors (nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism) that we still use. Refractive surgery only helps to eliminate the dependency on glasses.
Will My Power Keep Increasing If I Continue to Wear Glasses?
Your power variation (increase or decrease) has nothing to do with glasses or the surgery. It is a phenomenon of growth and aging processes that happen in your eye naturally.
Can a Surgery Correct My Vision Better Than My Glasses?
No, refractive surgery can only help you achieve the vision that you had with glasses. It cannot improve your vision beyond what is possible with glasses.
How Good Are the Success Rates in Refractive Surgery? I Have Heard from Several Senior Doctors That It Is a Waste of Money and That Our Eyes Can Get Harmed.
There is no surgery in the world that is free of complications. That being said, refractive surgery is not what it was a few years ago. The latest modes of imaging and scanning the cornea allow for a very high degree of accuracy in obtaining the correct power and lead to very good outcomes.
The latest surgery with the best visual results is ReLEx – SMILE. It was approved by US-FDA only a year ago. So, it is a very new field which older surgeons may not be very familiar with.
I Am Interested in Refractive Surgery. What Is to Be Done Next?
You need to see an ophthalmologist specializing in refractive surgeries and undergo a detailed pre-operative examination.
The examination will include an estimation of your visual acuity and also an examination of your retina (the nerve that helps you see). This may require dilatation. So, you may be asked to wait for an hour and may have blurred vision for at least three hours. So, it is best to come when you are free and have a companion to drive you home.
At most centers, the power of the glass that you are wearing should not have changed for at least a year. If it has, the surgeon will ask you to wait until it stabilizes.
The most important part is that you will have to undergo a detailed scan of your cornea (the black part of your eye). If you wear contact lenses, it is recommended that you do not wear them for at least 10 days before the scan.
If all the above things are fine, you will be taken up for surgery.
I Am Planning for Pregnancy/ I Am Breastfeeding/ I Am Carrying. Can I Undergo Refractive Surgery?
No, it is not advisable. This is because the curvature of the black part of your eye keeps changing when you are pregnant or carrying. We also see a few patients who had refractive surgery done before marriage, come to us and say that they are not able to see clearly and that they are pregnant. This is expected and usually happens to around 50 % of the patients whom I see.
But the corneal curvature stabilizes after a few months. This would be the ideal time to plan for surgery.
What Other Problems Could Make Me Unfit for Surgery?
There are a few conditions like severe dry eyes, treatment with Isotretinoin for acne, congenital corneal anomalies, glaucoma, cataract, pathological myopia/ hypermetropia, keratoconus, and very high powers which are considered unsafe.
The pre-operative evaluation for refractive surgery will help identify if you have any such abnormalities which may exclude you from having surgery.
I Was Told That I Am Eligible for Refractive Surgery, but the Doctor Has Given Me Multiple Options with Different Costs, Which One Should I Choose?
ReLEx – SMILE is currently considered the best procedure world over and has been approved by US FDA for specific powers. The next in terms of safety is PRK (photorefractive keratectomy), although it has issues of post-operative pain and discomfort. My next choice is LASIK, an older technique but has a higher complication rate compared to others due to flap-related issues.
Not only the cost is different, machines and technique are also very different. The outcome as to how much you can see will be the same, provided the surgery has been clearcut.
For more information consult a Lasik specialist online --> https://www.icliniq.com/ask-a-doctor-online/eye-care-ophthalmologist/lasik
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