How Can I Tell if I Require Refractive Eye Surgery?

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Portrait of eye reflected in the mirror
by Dougherty Laser Vision

To determine whether you might require refractive eye surgery, you need to understand how eye refraction works in relation to how we see. Refraction is when we look at an object and are seeing the reflected light that enters the eye.

The first thing the eye does is to attempt to focus the rays of light as they refract off the retina in the eye. Once the image of the object focuses, it sends chemical impulses through the optic nerve. From there, they travel to the brain, where our brain deciphers what we are looking at so that we can see it and distinguish what it is.

How Should the Eye Work?

All light that enters the eyes is refracted or bent in the cornea. The cornea is the clear part of the eye above the pupil and iris. From there the “bent” light rays are passed through to the retina. The retina is the back part of the eye where the optic nerve and macula are located. In normal 20/20 vision, the refracted light passes through easily and without any problems, resulting in a clear and concise image.

What if I Have Vision Problems?

If there are problems in the eye like astigmatism, farsightedness, or nearsightedness, then the image does not come into focus in the right location in the eye. For example, with astigmatism, the image cannot come into focus because the light rays are being bent and sent to more than one location in the back of the eye. This can cause the image to appear fuzzy or even look like we are seeing double.

If you have farsightedness, then the image comes into focus behind the retina, so it will appear blurry. If you have nearsightedness, the image comes into focus in front of the retina, so it will look distorted.

Aging also affects the ability of the eye to refract and bend light rays. Inside the cornea, where the natural lens of the eye is located, it can start to become less flexible as we age. There can also be a buildup of protein within the natural lens that will prevent refraction, which we call cataracts.

Won’t Glasses or Contacts Fix Vision Problems So Refractive Surgery Isn’t Required?

Both glasses and contacts can help refraction problems in the eyes in most cases. However, they will not be effective if you have cataracts. Cataracts form white spots over the natural lenses of the eyes, which block out the light rays. As such, the only way to fix this problem is with cataract surgery.

Doctor treating cataracts in the lab

Refractive eye surgery also refers to a wide range of laser eye surgery procedures, such as LASIKPRK, SMILE, ICL, and so on. These procedures are designed to fix the imperfections in the eyes so that glasses or contacts may no longer be required. While glasses or contacts can help, not everyone likes wearing them, and they would rather get refractive laser eye surgery to see clearly.

As can be seen, the easiest way to tell if you require refractive eye surgery is if you have vision problems and do not want to have to rely on glasses or contacts or if you have cataracts.

For further information about laser refractive surgery procedures to help you see clearly, or to schedule a FREE laser eye surgery consultation, please feel free to contact Dougherty Laser Vision at (805) 953-7052 today!