Laser eye treatment is a continually developing surgical process that's come a long way in a relatively short time. Not so long ago people with visual problems, such as long or short sightedness, were forced to rely on glasses to correct their sight. Then along came contact lenses, which have proved a great success although they still involve an element of ‘hassle'. As laser technology developed in the 1980's eye-care professionals were quick to realise its potential and they began to develop surgical procedures to treat common eye problems.
The first method of laser eye treatment developed in the late 1980's is known as PRK. The procedure involved removing the outer layer of the cornea (the epithelium ) and then reshaping the tissue beneath with a laser. PRK was painful and it could take months for eyes that had been operated on to regain 20/20 vision. Despite these drawbacks many people still decided to go ahead with the operation and were pleased with the results. In the early 1990's a new procedure was developed known as LASEK.
LASEK partially removed a thin layer of epithelium before reshaping the corneal tissue beneath. LASEK proved to be less painful than PRK and the recovery period was much shorter. However, it was really only really suitable for low to moderate visual disorders and surgeons continued to experiment. The most recent laser eye treatment is called LASIK, whereby surgeons cut a small flap in the epithelium to access the tissue beneath. At the end of the operation the corneal flap is folded back over (hence there's little pain) and normal sight returns almost immediately.
In recent years surgeons have also developed parallel technologies to help with laser eye treatment. Perhaps the best-known of these is Wavefront technology which allows accurate 3D mapping of the eye and consequently delivers better results. However, no matter how good the equipment it's important to make sure that your surgeon is properly qualified and experienced. Overall success rates are impressive and the failure rate is reported to be approximately one percent (although accurate statistics are difficult to come by). Before you sign on the dotted line it's important to have a full consultation with the eye care professional that is to perform the operation. Don't be fobbed off with a fifteen minute chat to the receptionist and only give the go ahead if you are 100% confidence of their abilities.