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Published: Thursday March 6, 2014 MYT 9:43:00 AM
Updated: Thursday March 6, 2014 MYT 9:49:11 AM

Seeing clearly through surgery

LASIK is probably the most common corrective eye procedure performed in Malaysia. - Filepic

LASIK is probably the most common corrective eye procedure performed in Malaysia. - Filepic

Eyeing surgical methods to improve eyesight.

RECENTLY went to the optometrist because I couldn’t see clearly with my current spectacles. He ran me through a vision chart and told me that my eyesight has deteriorated. I am very worried. Why do I have short-sightedness?

Short-sightedness or nearsightedness is also called myopia. It means having difficulty seeing objects which are distant, but you will have no problem seeing objects that are near.

Typical examples are not being able to see highway signs from a distance. Or if you are a child, not being able to make out words on the blackboard. The usual cause of nearsightedness is having an eyeball which is too “long”, or having a cornea with too much curvature. This means the light entering your eye is then not focused directly on your retina, which is the “screen” of your eye, causing blurred vision.

Myopia runs in families. It usually appears when you are a child and can worsen with age.

If I have nearsightedness, do I go to an optometrist or an eye doctor?

Optometrists and eye doctors, called ophthalmologists, go through different types of training to become specialists in their field. An ophthalmologist is actually a medical doctor who has gone through an extra specialist degree.

If you have mild to moderate myopia which did not appear suddenly, you can go to an optometrist. However, if you want laser or surgical procedures done for your eye to correct this myopia, or if you think you have an underlying eye disorder, you should go to an ophthalmologist.

What can I do to correct my nearsightedness?

The optometrist will run you through a visual acuity chart using several lenses for both eyes. This is done to determine your visual acuity and to test for astigmatism and colour blindness.

After that, depending on your vision acuity, you can be prescribed glasses or contact lenses.

However, if you wish to go for surgical procedures to correct your eyesight, you have to go to an ophthalmologist. There are many eye centres offering corrective surgery.

What are the types of surgery I can do to correct my eyesight?

You can do:

> Photorefractive keratectomy (PRK)

> Laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis (also called LASIK)

> Corneal rings for a condition called keratoconus

> Intraocular lens implants

Tell me about photorefractive keratectomy (PRK). I have never heard of this. Is it as common as LASIK?

PRK was actually the first type of laser surgery to correct vision. It can be used to correct myopia, farsightedness and astigmatism. It has a longer recovery time than LASIK, but for some patients, it has some advantages over LASIK.

In PRK, your cornea is reshaped using a laser to allow light to enter your eye and focus on your retina. In PRK, an entire outer layer is removed from your cornea to expose the area, whereas in LASIK, a thin flap is created. So it’s really a difference in laser surgical methods that distinguish the two.

But what matters is the outcome, right? The final outcome for improving your vision is comparable to LASIK, though recovery time for PRK is slower. There is generally more discomfort than LASIK.

PRK is beneficial for patients who have corneas which are too thin for LASIK or if they have undergone previous LASIK surgery.

Tell me more about LASIK.

This is probably the most common corrective eye procedure performed in Malaysia.

This is what you can expect:

1. First, the ophthalmologist will numb your eye with eye drops. The numbing effect takes seconds and lasts 10 to 15 minutes.

2. Your eye will be held apart by an eye speculum. You might feel this, but you will not feel pain.

3. Your surgeon then will create a flap on your eye using a laser or blade. Your vision will blur when he does this, but you will feel no pain.

4. Then your surgeon will use a laser to reshape your cornea according to your prescription. You will be asked to look at a light while the computer calibrates what needs to be done. LASIK will correct for any astigmatism you might have.

5. The surgeon then replaces your flap. The whole procedure lasts about half an hour.

6. After that, your eye will water and feel irritated for a few hours. Just take a nap. You will apply antibacterial and steroid drops for a week. Your vision returns the day of the surgery. Within one year, you can reach 20/20 vision.

Tell me about implantable lenses.

This can be done for severe myopia. Instead of reshaping your cornea, this surgery focuses on changing your lens refraction.

A new lens is implanted in front of your natural lens. New advances are being made in this field to implant multifocal lenses, so some doctors have advised patients to wait a bit for this type of surgery to correct severe myopia.

Dr YLM graduated as a medical doctor, and has been writing for many years on various subjects such as medicine, health, computers and entertainment. For further information, e-mailstarhealth@thestar.com.my. The information contained in this column is for general educational purposes only. Neither The Star nor the author gives any warranty on accuracy, completeness, functionality, usefulness or other assurances as to such information. The Star and the author disclaim all responsibility for any losses, damage to property or personal injury suffered directly or indirectly from reliance on such information.

Tags / Keywords: surgery, improve eyesight, LASIK

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