EYE TO EYE with John Wallace
Laser refractive surgery… Are there alternatives?
Two of the most frequent questions I am asked is “Am I suitable for laser?” and “Is it safe?” Most of the patients asking have seen the highly persuasive television adverts and have taken what has been said at face value. Yes, some patients can throw away their glasses and have excellent vision.
However, for many there is a significant downside to having laser treatment for refractive error (long or short sightedness). The human eye slowly, but steadily, tends to become long sighted, or less short sighted, as we grow older. That's one of the reasons your distance vision changes and why you often need an updated pair of glasses every two years. Even after laser refractive surgery your eyesight will continue to change.
Two common complaints about refractive surgery are poor vision at night and persistently dry gritty eyes. There is also a significant risk of losing vision with refractive surgery (1 in 64.5 compared with 1 in 28000 with the latest generation of contact lenses).
So why is laser refractive surgery so popular? Some patients have tried contact lenses and for one reason or another have not been successful. The usual reason given is they can't be bothered with looking after their contact lenses. Some patients simply see the TV adverts and go straight to refractive surgery without exploring the alternatives.
Two recently developed alternatives are silicon hydrogel contact lenses that you can safely wear for thirty days and nights without removing them and orthokeratology. OrthoK, as it is known, uses specially designed contact lenses worn over night to reshape your cornea, No tissue is removed and the process is totally reversible. OrthoK is currently only available for low to medium myopia (short sightedness). We are one of only three or four practices in Scotland currently offering OrthoK as an option.
John Wallace BSc(Hons), FCOptom, DipCLP
John Wallace Optometrists
11/12 Argyll Square
Tel: 0845 230 3937 (EYES)
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