From ordinary spectacles to contact lenses and laser surgery, vision correction has come a long way since the first pair of spectacles was made in the 13th century. These new methods of correction can potentially restore vision back to normal. They attempt to reduce any refractive error by making light rays focus properly on the retina.
Laser eye surgery or refractive surgery has gained popularity amongst Americans. This treatment is useful for those who wish to reduce their dependency on spectacles or contact lenses. The latest trend in laser surgery is a procedure called laser in situ keratomileusis, also known as LASIK. The cornea permanently changes shape during this procedure. It is used to treat nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism. A flap is cut in the cornea with the help of a surgical knife, called a microkeratome. The flap is folded back, exposing the middle layer of the cornea, called the stroma. A laser beam is used to vaporize the stroma and the flap is then replaced. Due to the removal of tissue, the shape of the cornea changes and the refractive error is reduced. Lasik surgery is more affordable but is not reversible.
Photorefractive keratectomy or PRK, is another laser procedure used as an alternative to LASIK. A laser beam gently reshapes the cornea by removing tissue from its outer layer. The procedure takes only a few minutes and patients can go back to their daily routine within a week.
Laser thermal keratoplasty or LTK, is a comparatively new, less-invasive laser procedure. Laser beams are projected on 16 spots of the cornea, shrinking the tissue. The procedure takes less than 30 minutes and patients can resume normal activities, the very next day.
The quality of contact lenses has also improved with time. Soft contact lenses are now available that contain 25 percent to 79 percent water. They are easy to adjust and more comfortable because of their ability to adapt to the eye and absorb water. Extra-thin soft lenses are also available for very sensitive eyes.
A balanced diet, sunglasses that block ultraviolet light and regular eye examinations are essential steps to help maintain good vision.