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Laser-assisted vision correction
Vision provides more than 80% of information about our surroundings. That is why people have been trying to correct their vision for about two centuries already by changing the corneal curvature. Though, this way is very difficult and makes the patient prone to complications, which is why this type of surgery has been falling out of the scope from time to time.
Throughout its history, mankind has been longing for a way to restore one's sight. First, eyeglasses were invented, then contact lenses. But eyeglasses are not very convenient to use, they block peripheral vision, while lenses are not suitable for everyone, they are often cumbersome, limiting one's activities (one can not swim or stay in a dusty room wearing lenses). Most importantly, though, neither glasses nor lenses provide 100% vision.
About 40 years ago, Prof. Svyatoslav Fyodorov has performed an operation of myopia correction consisting in making radial cuts in the cornea with a specialized scalpel thus changing its curvature and refraction of the eye. It was the first time when so-called “radial keratotomy” was used. This type of surgery soon became popular both in Russia and abroad.
Ophthalmology scientists did not stop at that and continued their search for new and advanced techniques. In 1988, Prof. Stephen Trokel first used an excimer laser to correct vision of a patient, calling his method “photorefraction keratoectomy”, which consists in reshaping of the cornea by vaporizing its outer layers with a laser. Modern laser technologies combined with powerful computers have allowed ophthalmologists to predict the outcome of the surgery with high precision, and also to correct up to -12D myopia, +5D hyperopia, or 3D astigmatism in just one take, while keeping possible complications at minimum.
Still, this kind of surgery is harmful for the structure of the eye, since it removes epithelium, natural protection of the eye. That is why the rehabilitation period after such an operation is quite long.
LASIK (laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis), which was developed by Dr. Buratto and Dr. Pallikaris in early 1990's, is the most advanced vision correction technique up to date.
The LASIK method combines the application of an excimer laser with the finest microsurgery. A small flap of the cornea is made with a specialized tool—microkeratome—which is then pulled away. Then, on a microscopic level, the laser vaporizes tissue from internal layers of the cornea to create necessary curvature in the central zone without heating the tissue. After that, the flap is returned in its place.
This technique has been is use since 1991, and it is effective when treating up to -15D myopia, +6 hyperopia, or -5 astigmatism. The sight is recovered within 2-3 hours after the surgery. The operation itself is painless due to the application of local anesthesia is used. If the patient so wishes, the surgery can be performed on both eyes in one day on the outpatient basis.
In other words, during excimer laser-assisted vision correction so-called “high-precision natural contact lenses” are created, using cold laser beam and the patient's own cornea as building material.