Advances in laser surgery are making eye surgery faster and more effective and are also reducing side-effects from procedures such as Keratoconus. These advances should lead more doctors and patients to feel comfortable with laser surgery to treat various eye conditions.
New femtosecond lasers are able to deliver about 1,400 pulses per second. This increase in pulses has helped to greatly speed up completion time in corrective procedures. New techniques, such as changing the angle of the laser incision in various procedures can also reduce the incidence of side-effects in laser eye surgery patients. About one in a thousand patients currently experience infection, dry eye or heavy cornea scarring after surgery.
One new method that can assist Keratoconus patients undergoing laser eye surgery involves removing a thin slice of tissue from under the cornea's surface and preserving it. By preserving this tissue cryogenically, it can be reinserted into the eye later if needed to counteract long-term side-effects of the surgery such as Keratoconus.
Keratoconus is a degenerative disorder affecting the eye. The disorder causes the cornea to thin and change shape, becoming more conical. Over time, Keratoconus can cause substantial vision problems, including light sensitivity, multiple images and streaking. In severe cases, the disorder can impact patients' ability to safely operate a vehicle and read normal-size print. This disorder affects about one to five in every 10,000 people. It has an equal distribution among men and women.
Keratoconus has a variety of causes, including heredity and chronic rubbing. Certain laser surgeries such as LASIK can also cause the disorder. LASIK may cause Keratoconus by removing too much of the eye's stromal bed.
Another relatively new technique that can help people suffering from Keratoconus is cross-linking treatment. In this treatment, riboflavin solution is applied to the eye, and then exposed to UV-A light for about half an hour. The treatment helps to recover and preserve some corneal strength. In many cases, this treatment will, at the very least, arrest the progression of the disorder, if not reverse it. This treatment can be combined with corneal inserts for greater effectiveness.
As laser eye surgery techniques continue to improve, worries that may keep some patients from considering surgery should abate. Knowing that procedures to reverse any ill effects that may result from laser eye surgery — including Keratoconus — should be comforting to people considering LASIK or other procedures.