The physicians at Columbia University Laser Vision Center use a range of technologies to ensure our patients receive the best possible vision outcomes. Before your treatment plan is determined, you will not only be evaluated as a potential candidate for laser vision correction, but you will also receive a comprehensive eye examination and screening to detect any conditions that might affect your results. The goal of refractive surgery is to reduce your dependence on corrective lenses. Results cannot be guaranteed. Though additional information about these procedures will be provided to help you make an informed decision, make sure to have all questions and concerns addressed before proceeding.
Depending on your individual needs, your physician might recommend one of the following forms of laser vision correction procedures:
- Photorefractive keratectomy (PRK)
- Laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis (LASIK)
Both PRK and LASIK involve reshaping the cornea with an excimer laser (an ultraviolet light beam) to correct vision. At Columbia, we use the latest VISX excimer laser, which provides CustomVue treatments. CustomVue technology uses a person’s unique profile to measure and correct imperfections of the eye 25 times more precisely than standard methods.
In near-sighted eyes, the laser flattens a cornea that is too steep, while in far-sighted eyes, the laser steepens a cornea that is too flat. Problems such as myopia, hyperopia, and astigmatism can be treated with either PRK or LASIK, and both procedures achieve similar vision correction results. However, each procedure is performed differently, and has its own benefits and drawbacks.
In PRK, the physician removes the epithelium (the outermost layer of the cornea) and uses the laser to reshape the stromal portion of the cornea. After the procedure, the epithelium usually heals within a week’s time.
In LASIK, the physician creates a flap in the cornea using a microkeratome (a small blade) or a special kind of laser (called a “femtosecond” laser, such as Intralase). At Columbia, we primarily use the Intralase laser to create the LASIK flaps, since it is more precise and allows the flap to adhere better. The physician lifts the flap and reshapes stromal portion of the cornea with the excimer laser. Because the flap cannot be used to change the cornea’s properties, patients with thin corneas might not qualify for LASIK. These patients might be better candidates for PRK.
If you are interested in laser vision correction, one of our specialists can help you determine if one of these procedures is right for you.