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Is LASIK capable of correcting farsightedness?

By Jill Case

10993940 – beautiful abstract blue eye, extreme closeup

Hyperopia, or farsightedness, generally means a person has trouble seeing things up close but sees more clearly at a distance. Farsightedness has been more difficult to correct with laser surgery than myopia, or nearsightedness, but for some patients, LASIK, commonly know as laser eye surgery, may provide answers.

First things first: Hyperopia should not be confused with presbyopia, the vision problem people experience as they age, which requires reading glasses. These are two different conditions. When someone has hyperopia, it means the eye is too short, making close-up images unfocused on the retina. By contouring the corneal tissue, LASIK surgery helps correct this condition.

Symptoms of Hyperopia

Patients with farsightedness may experience one or more of the following symptoms:

  • blurriness when reading type or viewing objects up close
  • squinting in order to see close-up things more clearly
  • eye strain such as tired, burning, achy eyes
  • headaches after long periods of reading

If you experience these symptoms, itís in your best interest to see a doctor for a thorough eye exam and evaluation.

What does LASIK look like?

Laser-assisted in-situ keratomileusis, or LASIK, is performed in an ophthalmologistís office and generally takes about five to 10 minutes per eye. For those opting in to the procedure, hereís what to expect:

  1. Prior to surgery, patients receive eye-numbing drops. The doctor might also provide some medication to help the patient relax during the procedure.
  2. The doctor will use an eye speculum to keep the patientís eye open as it is positioned under the laser. The ophthalmologist marks the cornea and creates a flap.
  3. The surgeon employs the excimer laser to adjust the corneal tissue. The patient should not experience any discomfort but may feel some pressure.

Patients undergoing this procedure will need a ride home on the day of surgery, and should not drive again until visiting the doctor the day after surgery for a follow-up visit. The day of surgery, the patient may have hazy, blurry eyesight, but vision should clear up the day after surgery. However, the patient may want to stay home from work for 48 hours to rest her eyes, and should avoid strenuous exercise for one week post-surgery.

If you decide LASIK is not right for you, your ophthalmologist can discuss other treatment options.

No More Reading Glasses?

After age 40, many people begin to experience presbyopia, or the gradual decline in close-up vision. This usually leads to the multiple-reading-glasses syndrome, with pairs of glasses scattered throughout the home, purse, office and car. The good news is there may be a way to correct the problem without readers or bifocals. Consult an ophthalmologist to see whether either of the following procedures may be right for you.

The Corneal Inlay

This is a 20-minute procedure that may help with a presbyopia, or near-vision, problem. It involves placing a very small (2 millimeter), clear implant—similar to a contact lens—in the cornea of the non-dominant eye. This inlay works by reshaping and steepening the curvature of the cornea, which begins to flatten out as we age, making it harder for one’s vision to adjust to close-up viewing and low lighting.

Ideally, candidates for this surgery should:

  • be between the ages of 40 and 60
  • require reading glasses for close-up reading
  • have good overall health, as well as healthy eyes

Multifocal LASIK

Also known as PresbyLASIK, this procedure uses laser surgery to provide vision correction in much the same way as multifocal contact lenses. The laser is used to correct the shape of the cornea, and it may be performed on one or both eyes, depending on the patient’s needs. It’s important to note this procedure is not yet FDA-approved in the United States, so, generally, insurance will not cover this treatment.

LASIK versus LASEK

Change one letter in LASIK, and you have LASEK. No, itís not a typo. Rather, itís a different method of laser surgery. LASIK stands for laser-assisted in-situ keratomileusis, while LASEK stands for laser subepithelial keratomileusis. The primary difference between the two surgeries involves the method the surgeon uses to reach the mid layer of the cornea. LASEK leaves the cornea in a more stable state, but it does require a longer recovery time than LASIK.

The main thing patients need to know is that LASEK surgery may be more beneficial for certain people, including:

  • those who play sports or work at a job with a high risk of eye injuries
  • those who have thin corneas, making them ineligible for LASIK surgery
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