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Laser vision correction: myths and reality

The first excimer laser eye surgery was performed back in 1985. Dr. Theo Seiler amazed the German Ophthalmological Society with the results achieved: patients were successfully treated for myopia, hyperopia, and astigmatism. Since then, laser correction techniques have improved dramatically.

Despite the up-to-date and popular technique, there remain many myths about this unique surgery. And it’s time to get rid of them.

Surgery and preparation

1. If you are planning laser correction, you should never wear contact lenses

Contact lenses are a modern and popular method of vision correction. You can wear them for years, even if you are considering surgery later on. But there are some limitations. When getting ready for laser correction, the lenses must be removed:

  • Hard lenses — 2 weeks in advance;
  • Soft lenses — 4 days before the intervention.

You should consider taking them off a couple of days before the exam. Lenses can provoke swelling of the cornea and change its thickness. This parameter is the key to the correction, so the doctor should measure it correctly.

2. Ophthalmologists don’t perform corrections on themselves or their loved ones because it’s dangerous

There are no collected statistics on how many doctors have undergone laser correction. If you see an ophthalmologist wearing glasses, it does not mean that the surgery is dangerous. The doctor is just a human being, and he makes his own choices. First of all, he may have contraindications to the laser. And secondly, he can wear glasses occasionally, which does not interfere with his lifestyle. We can assure you that some ophthalmologists at Eximer Ophthalmology Clinic have undergone laser correction and advised it to their loved ones.

3. Surgery requires hospitalization for several days

The operation is performed within one day, 15-20 minutes to be exact. After the correction, the patient has to be monitored by doctors at the center. During this time, the vision improves, and you can return to your daily routine and work at the computer after 1 to 2 days. Small fluctuations in vision may last for a week, but the eyes gradually come back to their normal state.

4. Women with semi-permanent eyelashes are unlikely to have vision correction

Eyelashes are attached to the eyelids, and all manipulations concerning vision correction do not affect the eyelashes. The laser cuts into the corneal tissue, so it is safe to operate with semi-permanent eyelashes. Eximer Ophthalmology Clinic employs special eyelid retractors, so as not to damage or disturb such a “beauty”. The only nuance! If you are just planning to extend your eyelashes, you should do it before the surgery, because it is not recommended 3 weeks after the correction to avoid getting foreign objects and particles in the eye.

5. Laser correction is an unaffordable procedure

The surgery might cost a pretty penny, but that’s where value for money comes into play. Think about it! How much money do you spend on contact lenses and solutions, or even glasses with expensive frames? Nowadays, correction is widespread all over the world, so the cost is much lower than it was 15-20 years ago. Today, when there are banks and credit cards, the financial issue is easily solved. And the surgery result is priceless: a perfect vision for the rest of your life!

6. Laser correction fails to help everybody: some patients undergo it without desired results

This myth has no grounds: there are specific contraindications for the correction, and then it is not performed at all. If the doctor sees no contraindications and recommends the procedure, statistics show that the vision improves in 100% of cases. Today, correction possibilities are being constantly improved. It is offered even to patients with refractive anomalies, to those who previously had no access to it. This is aided by the latest technology such as Custom Vue or femtosecond laser technique.

7. Eye surgery is painful

As with any other surgery, vision correction is performed with anesthesia. The patient is not subjected to pain since anesthetic drops are administered before the intervention. During the procedure, there may be some discomfort. This can be compared to what it feels like at the dentist’s office when an anesthetic is injected and a tooth is treated. After the surgery, there is still some discomfort throughout the day.

Most frequently, people do not experience pain, but feel the presence of a foreign body: “sand in the eyes”, “burning”, “glass in the eye”. This is how they describe their feelings. The discomfort goes away in several hours after surgery, and some patients get home on their own, and even by public transport. On the next day, the person wakes up with a good vision and no eye discomfort.

8. You can go blind during surgery

Several clinical trials and millions of surgeries performed all over the world have not revealed a single case of blindness after laser correction. Although the surgery involves a laser, the technology itself is very gentle and penetrates extremely little into the eye. The laser affects only the cornea, while the temperature in the affected area remains practically at the same level. Each pulse slices off 0.25 µm of tissue, which is comparable to 1/500 of the thickness of a hair.

9. The laser can fail, and the surgery goes wrong

Modern equipment removes tissue layers with robotic precision. The laser is controlled by a computer and an ultra-sensitive eye-tracking system, so it cannot fail.

10. You can go blind if the stitches rupture

Laser correction and stitches are not compatible. With excimer treatment, there are no postoperative stitches, because the tissues regenerate by themselves. There is no trace of the procedure after a month, except for good eyesight.

11. Repeated correction is not allowed

Corneal thinning is a contraindication for correction. If its thickness is less than 480 µm, the surgery is not performed. And if your cornea is too thick, you may be prescribed 2 laser procedures with a certain interval.

Laser correction and pregnancy

12. Correction is not advisable for women who have not given birth

Pregnancy is a contraindication for laser correction as women’s body undergoes certain changes, hormonal background differs from the usual one. That’s why the result of vision correction can be unstable. The same refers to the period of lactation. But it is possible to have the surgery before pregnancy and after childbirth.

13. If a woman has undergone laser correction, she is offered a cesarean section at delivery

Laser correction performed in the past has no effect on the delivery process. A woman can deliver naturally. During vision correction, the laser affects the cornea, and problems during delivery can occur if the patient has retinal pathologies.

What will happen to the eye in the future?

14. No one knows what will happen to your eyes 10-15 years after surgery

The accumulated experience in surgery is quite large: these have been performed for over 30 years. Therefore, ophthalmologists know what can happen to the eyes in 10-15 and even 20 years. No adverse effects following the procedure have been established. Instead, if a patient needs cataract surgery, it can be performed even after a previous vision correction.

15. Avoid prolonged eye strain after the correction

Post-surgery rehabilitation takes several days. The patient can use a computer after 2 days, as well as read and write after 3 days. Further on, visual activity has no impact on the achieved result.

16. Negative effects like iridescent circles appear next to the light source, especially in the evening, so even car headlights can get in the way

Doctors call this a halo vision eye condition. It can be seen right after surgery and lasts about 2 months, appearing periodically, but then it disappears forever. Statistically, about 95% of patients drive easily after laser correction, some of them even drive on the same day. Still, ophthalmologists recommend abstaining from driving in the first 48 hours after the correction.

17. Unstable result — the correction will have to be repeated in several years because the vision will decline again

Worldwide experience has shown that the stable result of the surgery is preserved throughout the entire life. Some age-related changes may occur at a mature age, but not with all patients. These changes are not related to the correction and are of a different nature.

18. 100% vision accuracy after the correction

This is not always true. It depends on the initial state of your eye and the degree of myopia/presbyopia. A thorough exam is performed before the surgery. The results can be used as a guide in achieving the effect of the surgery. For example, if the patient sees 8 lines in the eye chart with lenses, he/she will see approximately the same line after the surgery. In practice, this is quite enough to get around normally and live without glasses.

Correction and sports

19. Physical activity after surgery leads to blindness

If you had laser surgery, no reason to forget about sports. But physical activity should be gradual. You should refrain from lifting weights, prolonged bending, and sudden movements for a week after surgery. This can lead to the displacement of the operated cornea flap. The patient gradually returns to the usual physical activity.

20. Extreme and contact sports should never be practiced after the laser correction

This restriction is true to a certain extent. Doctors recommend it to prevent corneal injuries. One month after surgery all types of sports are allowed. Generally speaking, the recovery of athletic activity after laser correction is as follows:

  • Yoga, jogging, stretching — in one week;
  • Fitness, dancing, and aerobic exercises — in two weeks;
  • Martial arts, swimming, bodybuilding — in 1-2 months, depending on the individual characteristics of the body.

Age

21. Correction is not allowed after the age of 40

The optimal age for surgery is 18-45 years old, so the correction is easily performed for forty-year-old patients. But after 45 years of age, age-related changes (presbyopia) can occur. Today, Excimer Ophthalmology Clinic has new technologies that can restore visual acuity in case of age-related changes. PresbyLASIK and PresbyFemtoLASIK laser correction techniques under the PresbyMAX® program. This is a unique correction technique from SCHWIND Company, through which Excimer practitioners improve the corneal curvature for good vision at different distances.

22. Correction is harmful to children and adolescents under 18, which means it is dangerous for adults as well

In fact, correction is not harmful to children. It is merely inappropriate due to the anatomical structure of the eye. Up to the age of 18, the eyeball is still growing and the vision is changing. This means that the visual system is still unstable, and therefore the surgical result at this age is unpredictable.

Correction completely changes habits and lifestyles. Does it?

23. Now you have to stop wearing makeup

Ophthalmologists do not restrict this beautiful habit. Of course, you’d better protect your eyes from extra irritation for the first two days. Patients themselves may also feel a strong sense of dryness in the first days after the correction. The danger involves micro-particles of powder, eye shadows, mascara, which can get on the unhealed cornea. This is a potential source of infection and irritation. But nature invented the eye so that it secretes abundant fluid, tears, during interventions. Thus, even small particles are washed out of it. Basically, a complete makeup can be applied in just 14 days after the correction. But be sure to wash it off very carefully! Do not rub your eyes too hard and do not poke them with your fingers.

24. Time to give up alcohol

Ophthalmologists advise avoiding alcoholic beverages for two days before and two days after the surgery. There are several reasons for this:

  • You may be prescribed drops and medications for the recovery period that are incompatible with ethanol.
  • Alcohol causes dehydration, which is undesirable after laser correction. The sensation of dry eyes may increase with alcohol intake.
  • Alcohol intoxication is known to cause increased injury, loss of coordination, and uncontrolled movements. In this state, the patient may accidentally injure his/her eye, or get an infection inside.

A glass of hard liquor is allowed as early as 14 days after the correction. Thereafter, drinking alcohol has nothing to do with the surgery results.

25. You should quit smoking as well

It is recommended to quit smoking in any case. But tobacco fans can calm down: correction is compatible with smoking. Doctors do not recommend smoking on the first day after surgery and being in places with lots of smoking. Tobacco smoke can cause additional irritation and dryness of the treated eye. The same applies to vaping. The key is to avoid getting smoke in your eyes, so it is better to keep them safe for the first 48 hours. After that, you can go back to your habits.

26. No air travel after correction

The danger of air travel in the early postoperative period has not been established. Ophthalmologists allow boarding a plane on the second day after the intervention if it is necessary. For example, it occurs in pilots who have undergone a correction procedure. But it is better to refrain from flying to hot countries in the first month after the procedure. Just because it increases the risk of colds and infectious diseases that can have a negative impact on rehabilitation. Pressure fluctuations during the flight themselves do not affect the surgery result.

27. You can spend much less time in front of the TV, gadget, computer

You will also have to renounce watching your favorite movies, surfing the Internet, knitting, sewing, and soldering small parts just in the first days after surgery. These manipulations strain the eyes and the patient may experience discomfort in the first 24-48 hours. After the rehabilitation period, all the usual activities can be resumed, and you can do them as much as before. You can distract yourself with an audiobook or listen to music while you are recovering.

We hope that we managed to destroy many stereotypes about laser correction. Please remember: all indications and contraindications to the surgery are determined only by a doctor after a comprehensive eye exam and consultation. The doctor can also tell you in detail about the correction procedure and prepare you for it.

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