At Vision Eye Institute, Chatswood, we’ve always been fortunate to have the latest, proven technology with different types of laser eye surgery available for best practice offering to our patients. I perform thousands of laser eye surgery procedures every year, but it’s still a pleasure and a privilege to meet with happy patients the day after surgery.
There are now three types of laser eye surgery procedures: LASIK, ASLA and the latest laser eye surgery procedure, SMILE.
The laser makes a small incision that allows the surgeon to remove a lenticular (disc shaped) piece of cornea – thus SMall Incision LEnticular LASER. SMILE laser eye surgery is the next evolution in laser eye surgery, designed to put minimal pressure on the eye, making it a comfortable procedure.
SMILE laser eye surgery is a one-step, one laser minimally invasive procedure using photo separation of of tissue. Highly focused laser light is used to create a precise lens-shaped disc of tissue within the cornea, which is removed through a tiny keyhole incision. Once this is done, the cornea is reshaped and vision is corrected. The laser part of SMILE laser eye surgery takes less than 25 seconds.
Not only does SMILE laser eye surgery produce excellent visual results, the keyhole technique means there is minimal interference with corneal nerves. So recovery is rapid. Longer term, this also helps to avoid dry eye problems and to best preserve the strength of the cornea.
LASIK – short for ‘laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis’ is a proven procedure that allows a surgeon to best correct the vision of a patient. It’s a tried and true method for laser eye surgery, with millions of people worldwide having undergone the procedure.
LASIK actually uses two lasers – one to create what we call ‘a flap’. This allows us to gently move corneal tissue to one side. The second laser is then used to remodel the surface of the surface (corneal stroma). No burning or cutting is used – the laser actually ‘ vapourises’ the tissue. The technology of the laser also allows for levels of an extraordinarily high level of precision.
People often ask me – ‘what happens if I blink, or move my eyes?’ The answer is that the laser is so advanced, it detects even the smallest of movements and adjusts itself.
The actual procedure takes no more than 30 minutes for both eyes, however patients should plan to be in clinic for 2-3 hours. They also need to ensure that someone will be able to drive them home afterwards.
The day after laser eye surgery is performed (and occasionally the same day), the patient will return for a post-operative consultation. Most of them will, at that stage, be legally able to drive a car without the use of glasses or contact lenses. I’ve seen many overjoyed faces, and occasional tears of happiness, when they read the eye chart. I love those moments.
ASLA (Advanced Surface Laser Ablation) is an alternative to LASIK. Sometimes known as PRK, it uses the same laser technology, the difference being that a flap is not created, and the remodelling of the cornea is performed on the surface of the eye.
I would recommend ASLA to patients who have a significantly higher degree of refractive error. In fact, those patients that I would perform ASLA on are not suitable for LASIK. The result of this particular laser eye surgery procedure is the same as LASIK, however, the recovery time is longer.