What are the different types of lasers used for vision correction?
Laser-based technologies play a crucial role when it comes to surgical procedures for the eyes. And it cannot be denied that with the ever-evolving technologies at our disposal, laser eye surgeries are getting far more advanced and precise. Currently, there are a number of laser-based procedures that can help patients with various issues related to vision.
Below, we talk about the broad categories of Laser technologies that are being used to correct the vision of millions of people across the globe. But before we dig deeper, here’s an interesting story that led to the invention of eye surgeries for vision correction.
Eye Surgeries for Vision Correction: How it all started…
A Russian ophthalmologist named Dr. Svyatoslav Fyodorov was treating a boy who was suffering from a severe case of nearsightedness. This boy had an accident, following which he broke his eyeglasses, and its shards got stuck in his eyes. The damage wasn’t severe, but enough to cut into the Cornea (the transparent dome in the front of the eye). While performing surgery on the boy’s cornea, Dr. Fyodorov had to make several cuts from centre to periphery to remove the glass pieces. Surprisingly, after the wounds healed, the young boy was now able to see better without the glasses.
A surprised Dr. Svyatoslav Fyodorov thought that if an accidental cut could improve vision, what wonders could be achieved if these were precise targeted incisions?! And in 1964 he became the first person to perfect Radial Keratotomy to treat nearsightedness. This surgery involved a series of linear incisions in the Cornea made with the help of a diamond knife/scalpel. While Radial Keratotomy cuts involved almost 90% of the cornea, modern day refractive surgery procedures work on the anterior half of the cornea and are thus very safe.
After the advent of the RK (Radial Keratotomy) procedure, further research began, and it evolved into PRK (Photorefractive Keratectomy) and then LASIK. This technology replaced scalpel with laser to reshape the cornea for vision correction.
Now that you know about the interesting history behind laser-based eye surgeries, it is time to talk about the types of laser technologies used for vision correction.
Types of laser technology used for vision correction
- Excimer Laser Technology
- Femtosecond Laser
Excimer Laser Technology
The first generation of the Excimer laser was invented in 1970 and brought a revolution in the Ophthalmology world. Ever since, technology has advanced by leaps and bounds to provide better safety, precision, and effectiveness.
The excimer laser tends to add emit ultraviolet rays and adds enough energy to the surface leading to controlled disruption of chemical bonds of the corneal tissue and resulting in precise corrections of error by altering its shape without causing any sort of pain or burning sensation. Moreover, it doesn’t burn or damage the surrounding tissues and is very safe.
The femtosecond laser was introduced in the early 1990s. It is a type of laser technology that helps with one of the most precise incisions and causes minimal damage to the surrounding tissues. As the name suggests, Femtolaser beams are emitted at a very fast rate i.e. in femtoseconds. For a clearer picture, a femtosecond is one quadrillionth of a second. At such speed very accurate and precise shaping of the cornea is achieved with this latest technology.
Initially, femtosecond laser was used in LASIK procedures, but with time and advancement in technology, it has found a place in several other forms of surgical procedures for eyes such as cataract and SMILE.
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