When Light Sharpens Vision

Precise laser surgery corrects defective vision the gentle and fast way

Photo: Work step of SMILE procedure (Source: ZEISS)

Laser light and the eye – this can be a dangerous combination. That is precisely the reason why protective goggles have to be worn in many laser labs, and also why caution must be taken when using laser pointers. However, lasers can also be used to correct defects in our vision. In laser surgery the corneal curvature of nearsighted and farsighted patients is modified using laser light - in just a few minutes and practically without pain. The result: the patient's surroundings are focused clearly and sharply on his or her retina again.

The most common method used to correct defective vision using a laser is the LASIK technique. Here a flap is made in the upper layer of the cornea and is then folded upwards. Under this the corneal curvature can then be modified. To achieve this, doctors use lasers that emit ultraviolet light in short pulses. This light has the power to vaporize corneal tissue at exactly the required spot and with exactly the amount required to ensure that the cornea receives the desired shape and the patient's defective vision is corrected. During this process the surrounding tissue is exposed to practically no heat. In Germany alone, around 130,000 patients undergo refractive surgery every year.

In collaboration with ophthalmologists from all over Germany, ZEISS has developed systems for the most modern method of laser surgery – the SMILE technique. This is an even gentler procedure: a lens-shaped disk, or lenticule, is cut out of the cornea without causing any damage to its surface. The laser strings together tiny bubbles and in this way severs the disk that is then removed through a tiny lateral incision. This changes the corneal curvature and the patient can see clearly again.

Therefore, laser light and the eye can also definitely be a good combination.

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