Sight is a precious gift, so precious that children are taught the importance of looking after their eyes almost from birth. However, not everyone is blessed with perfect eyesight and mankind has, throughout the centuries, sought to find ways to correct defective vision and bring the world back into proper focus. Laser eye surgery is one of the more modern techniques to be employed.
However, while laser eye surgery has proven to be very effective in treating a number of eye problems, there are some people who are not suitable candidates for its application, either because of their activities or because their condition means that the technique will be ineffective. And, even though the risk of accident during the technique is very small, some people are unwilling to take the chance. For all these people, there are alternative methods of vision correction.
It almost goes without saying that spectacles and contact lenses are the most widely used corrective technique across the globe. Spectacles have been employed to good effect for centuries and contact lenses, a more recent innovation, have found favor among a great number of people.
But as science progresses, new surgical methods are being employed to correct vision so that external attachments like spectacles and contacts are rendered unnecessary. Laser eye surgery is among the newest, as are the following: Intraocular contact lenses – fitted behind the iris and in front of the eye’s lens, these are similar to normal contact lenses. They are, however, permanent although the procedure is reversible.
Suitable only for mild myopia and only then if there is no astigmatism present, INTACS or intrastromal ring segments involves the placement of two plastic arcs into the cornea so that its curvature is flattened. Vision improvement is minimal but it does allow patients to wear contact lens with greater comfort.
This involves the making of incisions in the cornea. Radial keratotomy, where incisions are made from the edge to the center, flattens the cornea and corrects myopia. Astigmatic keratotomy requires incisions in other directions and, as its name suggests, corrects astigmatism. In a similar technique, keratopathy, the incisions are made into the sub layer of the cornea. It is very effective for correcting serious myopia but is inappropriate for mild myopia and can also lead to astigmatism.
In this technique the natural lens is replaced with a clear intraocular implant. It is effective in the correction of myopia, hyperopia and presbyopia. Also, it can help patients over 40 whose sight is degenerating or who are developing signs of cataracts.
These are just some of the corrective techniques available. Each has its own limitations, advantages and disadvantages and each carries its own risks. They are all possible alternatives to laser eye surgery and should be carefully explored; patients should seek professional advice to find out which ones will be the most likely to benefit them.