Good Afternoon Mr Allamby,
I’m considering getting some treatment on my eyes, but am very worried about the long-term effect cutting the cornea can have. As i get older and my eyesight deterioates. will the my eyesight be worse off than if i had just kept wearing glasses?
Omar, I think this is one of the most common worries that prospective candidates have when considering laser eye surgery be it LASIK or PRK. It is just over 20 years since we first performed PRK for short-sight, and just under 20 years for LASIK, so we have considerable experience of long-term results.
The long-term outcomes have been excellent to date. Regression is seen in the London PRK study in 1-2% of patients, with a partial return to myopia, but not as bad as the vision had been before without glasses.
Cutting the cornea (e.g. to create a flap or flap disc) has been around for decades. Lamellar cuts were made in the 50s, and the first mechanical keratome was first used in 1963. No long term problems were seen, except when too little thickness was left in the cornea. At my clinic, we use a high safety standard of leaving 300 microns in the corneal bed, after creating the flap with a femtosecond laser and using the excimer laser to reshape the cornea.
The main worry is in excessive weakening of the cornea. However, the incidence of bending of the cornea through weakness in post-LASIK patients is the same as the incidence of bending from a disease known as keratoconus (KC). So in normal LASIK where all the safety parameters are observed, we are not sure if LASIK actually contributes to corneal bending post-operatively.
The key here, as always, is rigorous screening pre-operatively and visiting a centre where you get sufficient time for your consultation. Some clinics do consultations in 30 minutes, or even less. Others (mine included) spend much longer. Focus consultations take at least 2 hours.
About the Author: Mr. Dave Allamby FRCS FRCOphth is a leading London-based laser eye surgeon. You may have seen him on the This Morning TV show with Phillip Schofield and Fern Britton or read one of several articles in the national press, recently for treating Denise Van Outen, rock giant Rick Wakeman and broadcaster Paul Ross. David is Medical Director at Focus Laser Vision, known as a world-leading clinic in the treatment of presbyopia, or age related loss of close vision. Focus Laser Vision is also London's only clinic to offer next-generation Z-LASIK laser eye treatment for short sight, long sight or astigmatism.