What is laser ablation?
In the context of eye surgery, an ablation procedure essentially means using an excimer laser system (LASIK, LASEK) to remodel the cornea to change its refractive properties. Laser ablation surgery involves exposing the corneal stroma and firing the laser at it to ablate tissue. The laser basically forces the molecules to detach from each other.
A laser ablation procedure is done on the cornea to correct refraction errors like astigmatism, myopia (short-sight), and hyperopia (long-sight). The safety and efficiency of laser ablation surgery has led to its growing popularity. Such ablation surgery is a great option for those who do not want to be bothered with unwieldy eyeglasses or cumbersome contact lenses.
Types of laser ablation procedures
There are many types of laser ablation eye surgery techniques that are in use today. The most common laser eye ablation method is LASIK (Laser in-situ keratomileusis). This laser ablation procedure involves cutting a flap in the cornea and then using an excimer laser to reshape the middle section of the cornea, known as the stroma. The stroma is reshaped by ablating tiny bits of corneal tissue. The result is that light into the eye is focused correctly on to the retina, resulting in clearer vision.
PRK (photo refractive keratectomy) is very similar to LASIK, except that the entire procedure is carried out with an excimer laser. Instead of creating a flap, the surface cells of the cornea are ablated using the laser, resulting in a reshaped cornea.
Laser epithelial keratomileusis (LASEK) is a relatively new procedure, used for people whose corneas are too thin or too flat for LASIK eye surgery.
The most technologically advanced laser ablation surgery is wavefront LASIK (custom LASIK). This type of laser ablation surgery uses a visual wavefront analyzer to study the way the eye refracts light rays. This analysis is used by a computer attached to the laser to do the exact procedure needed to correct vision.
Advantages of laser ablation
Most of these laser ablation procedures have become immensely popular because they are quick and efficient, and relatively pain-free. It's certainly a blessing for those who find wearing glasses painful. As technology improves, such laser eye surgery techniques should become more inexpensive and accessible.