Laser eye surgery has been readily available in the United Kingdom and the United States for more than two decades and continues to grow in popularity. LASIK is the acronym given to the most recent procedure which has proved very successful to date, despite the fact that LASIK eye surgery is still in its infancy. If you want to refer to LASIK by its full name you'll have to remember the following mouthful; Laser-Assisted In Situ Keratomileusis . The other methods of laser eye surgery that you'll come across are PRK and LASEK.
PRK was the first surgical procedure to use lasers to re-sculpt the cornea, followed by LASEK in the early 1990s. LASIK is a further refinement and differs in the way in which the cornea is accessed. In PRK and LASEK the outer layer of the cornea is fully or partially removed, whereas in LASIK the eye surgeon cuts a flap in the cornea and folds it back. This reveals the middle section of the cornea named the stroma . Once the stroma has been reshaped, the corneal flap is then replaced and normal vision should be restored. LASIK has two main advantages over its competitors: firstly it's considerably less painful and secondly recovery time is more rapid.
Today there are a number of additional tools' used to aid laser eye surgery. Perhaps the best-known of these is wavefront technology, which allows a detailed computerised map of the eye to be built up (so that even the smallest aberrations can be dealt with).
It's important to understand that LASIK eye surgery is not suitable for everyone. People with severe vision problems or medical conditions (such as diabetes) may be advised against the procedure. Good clinics should offer a thorough pre-op screening to identify such patients.
All surgical procedures carry with them some element of risk and LASIK is no exception. Possible complications include: the corneal flap becoming detached (and having to re-grow) or corneal scarring by the laser. Complications are reportedly rare, but exact figures are difficult to come by as most clinics tend to keep such statistics close to their chests. It's also worth bearing in mind that each surgeon will have accrued a different amount of experience, so it's worth spending some time looking for one that you feel comfortable with.