If you are among people struggling with vision loss, you know how difficult it is to accomplish even the basic daily routines; you constantly fear missing your turn, your child’s school-play or being affected by contact lenses. However, vision can be easily improved with a simple technique called LASIK eye surgery – the most commonly performed type of eye laser surgery today.

“Laser eye surgery is ‘corneal sculpting’ that uses a laser to reshape the front surface of the eye. This is done to improve or correct myopia (short-sightedness), hypermetropia (long sightedness) and astigmatism (uneven curvature of the eye’s surface),” explains Dr Philip Finestone, an Ophthalmologist at the Eye and Laser Institute in Port Elizabeth.

“Some people who have laser eye surgery will still need to wear glasses or contact lenses, although their natural unaided eyesight will be much improved.”

He says LASIK surgery has several advantages over other vision correction procedures.

“The infection risk for contact lens wearers is greater than the infection risk from LASIK. Daily contact lens wearers have a 1-in-100 chance of developing a serious, contact lens-related eye infection and a 1-in-2,000 chance of suffering significant vision loss as a result of infection (webMD),” describes Dr Finestone.

“Researchers have calculated the risk of significant vision loss as a consequence of LASIK surgery to be about 1-in-10,000 cases. The chance of being struck by lightning in a lifetime is 1-in-6250 (WIKI).”

He said the excimer laser used in LASIK surgery is a “cool type of laser which does not burn tissue, but vaporizes small amounts of the cornea every time a beam of the laser is pulsed onto the surface of the eye”. The laser beam and the number of pulses directed onto the cornea are carefully controlled using computer technology.

“The procedure is performed using local anaesthetic eye drops and takes between five and ten minutes per eye. However, the time taken for the reshaping of the cornea with the excimer laser is usually less than a minute,” says Dr Finestone.

He says although after the operation, you may experience minor discomfort, the healing period is fairly quick and most patients can drive within a day or two.

“While no one can promise perfection, almost all patients are very satisfied with their result. It is a safe, effective and cost efficient procedure,” describes Dr Finestone.

A survey by the prestigious American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery on LASIK surgery, found a patient satisfaction rating of 95.4% over a 10 year period.

The best way to find out if you are eligible for LASIK treatment is to call the Eye and Laser Institute on 041 373 0682.