How does laser eye surgery work? - Dan Reinstein | Summary and Q&A

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November 19, 2019
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How does laser eye surgery work? - Dan Reinstein

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Summary

In this video, we learn about the history and technology behind vision correction surgery, specifically focusing on keratomileusis and LASIK. These surgical procedures aim to correct refractive errors in the eye, such as myopia, hyperopia, and astigmatism. By reshaping the cornea using advanced laser technology, surgeons can improve a patient's vision and reduce their reliance on glasses or contact lenses. The video also mentions newer techniques, like SMILE and Laser Blended Vision, that offer even smaller incisions and improved recovery time. The advancements in laser technology continue to make vision correction surgery more effective and accessible, bringing us closer to a world without glasses.

Questions & Answers

Q: How did Spanish ophthalmologist Jose Ignacio Barraquer Moner tackle blurry vision without glasses?

Jose Ignacio Barraquer Moner developed a surgical procedure called keratomileusis, where he sliced off the front of a patient's cornea and reshaped it using a lathe and liquid nitrogen. After freezing the cornea and grinding it into the proper shape, he then sewed it back onto the eye. Despite sounding gruesome, this technique produced reliable results and corrected refractive errors.

Q: What are refractive errors and how do they affect vision?

Refractive errors refer to imperfections in the way the eye focuses incoming light. The cornea and lens work together to focus light onto the surface of the retina. However, different refractive errors can disrupt this process. Myopia, or short-sightedness, occurs when a steep cornea focuses light just short of the retina. Hyperopia, or far-sightedness, happens when light is focused beyond the retina. Astigmatism, on the other hand, occurs when the cornea has two different curvatures, leading to light being focused at two different distances and causing blurry vision. Even those with normal vision will eventually experience presbyopia, which is the stiffening of the lens with age, making it harder to change shape and focus properly.

Q: How do glasses and contact lenses compensate for refractive errors?

Glasses and contact lenses work by bending light to compensate for refractive errors. They act as external aids, altering the path of light entering the eye. By placing the correct lenses in front of the eye, vision is corrected as light is redirected to properly focus on the retina. However, these external aids can be cumbersome and require constant maintenance.

Q: What is the process of laser eye surgery like and how does it correct vision?

Laser eye surgery, specifically LASIK (Laser In-Situ Keratomileusis), involves using an excimer laser to reshape the cornea and correct refractive errors. First, a thin layer is separated from the front of the cornea using a blade or a femtosecond laser. Surgeons then lift this flap to expose the inside of the cornea. Guided by the refractive error and the current shape of the cornea, the excimer laser uses robotic technology to sculpt the exposed corneal bed into the correct shape. This precise reshaping adjusts the way light is focused on the retina, ultimately improving vision. The flap is then closed, and it naturally reseals within a few hours.

Q: What are the risks associated with LASIK surgery?

Like any surgical procedure, LASIK does come with certain risks. Some patients may experience slightly blurred vision that cannot be corrected with glasses. However, according to the video, the risks associated with LASIK are currently about as likely as wearing daily disposable contact lenses for one year. While it is important to weigh the risks and benefits before undergoing any surgery, LASIK has become a relatively safe and effective option for many individuals.

Q: Are there any newer techniques or advancements in laser eye surgery?

Yes, the video mentions two newer techniques - SMILE and Laser Blended Vision. SMILE (Small Incision Lenticule Extraction) enables surgeons to reshape the cornea through even smaller incisions, reducing recovery time. Additionally, Laser Blended Vision allows surgeons to adjust one eye to better focus on distance vision and the other eye to better focus on close-range vision. The slight difference between the two eyes allows most patients to merge their vision, enabling both eyes to work together at all distances. These advancements in laser technology continue to push the boundaries and improve the effectiveness and accessibility of vision correction surgery.

Q: Can laser eye surgery also address the effects of aging on the eyes?

Yes, laser eye surgery can also address the effects of aging on the eyes. One technique mentioned in the video is Laser Blended Vision, which adjusts one eye to be better at distance vision and the other eye to be better at close range vision. This technique helps individuals with presbyopia, the age-related stiffening of the lens, by allowing both eyes to work together at all distances. Laser technology offers potential solutions for various vision-related issues caused by aging.

Q: How are excimer lasers used in corrective eye surgery?

Excimer lasers are precise tools used in corrective eye surgery to sculpt the cornea. These lasers are accurate enough to etch words into a human hair. To safely perform these ultra-fine incisions, surgeons use a technique called photoablation. This technique allows the laser to essentially evaporate organic tissue, such as the cornea, without overheating the surrounding eye tissue. Excimer lasers provide the necessary precision for reshaping the cornea and correcting refractive errors.

Q: What is the full name of LASIK and why is it called laser in-situ keratomileusis?

The full name of LASIK is "laser in-situ keratomileusis." It is called so because the surgical procedure involves reshaping the cornea directly on the eyeball itself, which is described as "in situ" or "on site." The term "keratomileusis" comes from the Greek words for "carving" and "cornea," accurately capturing the essence of the procedure.

Q: How do advancements in laser technology make vision correction surgery more effective and accessible?

Advancements in laser technology have significantly improved the effectiveness and accessibility of vision correction surgery. In the past, procedures like keratomileusis were quite invasive, involving freezing the cornea and using a lathe to reshape it. However, modern eye surgeons can now sculpt the cornea using laser technology, which allows for precise and less invasive procedures. Laser eye surgery, such as LASIK, offers quicker recovery times, reduced risks, and improved outcomes. Additionally, newer techniques like SMILE and Laser Blended Vision continue to push the boundaries of what is possible, making vision correction surgery more effective and accessible to a wider range of individuals.

Takeaways

Vision correction surgery, specifically LASIK, has come a long way since the initial experiments of Jose Ignacio Barraquer Moner. By reshaping the cornea using excimer lasers, surgeons can correct refractive errors and reduce reliance on glasses or contact lenses. Advancements in laser technology have made these surgical procedures more effective, with smaller incisions and speedy recovery times. Newer techniques like SMILE and Laser Blended Vision provide further options for patients. As technology continues to advance, visual impairments caused by refractive errors and age-related issues can be addressed more efficiently and with fewer risks. The dream of a world without glasses may soon become a reality thanks to these ongoing advancements.

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