Vision correction surgery, or refractive and laser eye surgery, is any surgical procedure used to correct vision problems. Over the past decades, refractive surgery has improved the quality of life for over 20 million patients with an above 95% patient satisfaction rate. It is one of the most popular elective surgery procedures in all of medicine.
It is considered safe with predictable results. It has been approved by the armed forces in many countries, even National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa) astronaut candidates in the United States. After the surgery, many patients report seeing better than they had in their lives.
Extensive research had provided invaluable refinements and advancements in laser technology and diagnostic tools to develop safe and appropriate treatment options for patients with a myriad of refractive disorders.
Laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis or Lasik is presently the most performed elective procedure in the modern world.
In recent years, a new procedure called Refractive Lenticular Extraction or simply, Relex Smile (Small-incision lenticule extraction), is gaining popularity in the refractive arena worldwide. It is potentially changing the practise of the surgery for the future.
Unlike conventional Lasik, Relex Smile does not create a flap and involves the use of only one laser.
Instead of vaporising the cornea tissue to correct the underlying short-sightedness and astigmatism, Relex Smile carves out a small piece of corneal tissue called a lenticule, which is removed through a small incision about 2.5mm to 4mm.
This single-step, all-in-one-laser operation takes only about 30 seconds to perform for one eye, and the entire procedure is completed in about 15 minutes for both eyes.
The procedure is fast and uses low energy, is odourless and silent so there is less discomfort for patients. Patients also feel more comfortable for the suction on the eye during the treatment is gentler. There is no frightening "blackout", no bleeding or red eyes during the procedure or swelling after.
Light "blackout" occurs when the laser beam the patient is focusing on during the procedure vanishes at the start. This can cause some panic.
Foreign body sensations and mild discomfort may be experienced by some patients after the procedure and last for a few hours.
Relex smile invasive surgery causes a smaller wound, resulting in a strong eye and less immediate post-operative discomfort and tearing.
The smaller incision means fewer servered corneal nerves in the procedure, resulting in less occurrence of dry eyes.
With no flap created, its displacement or dislodgement is not an issue - the eye is less susceptible to trauma. Relex smile is a good option for those active in contact sports.
Most patients will experience a dramatic improvement in their vision a day after the surgery.
Discuss all options and potential risks in detail with him or your eye care provider before making final choices.
This article was contributed by Sri Kota Refractive.