Seeing surgically: the different types of ophthalmic surgeries

There are a range of ophthalmic surgeries that can be performed to treat eye problems. They typically fall under five different categories, with each category relating to different conditions of the eye.

So, for people interested in learning more about laser surgery for eyes, here are the different kinds of ophthalmic treatments.

  • Refractive

Refractive surgery is essentially designed to strengthen your vision. If you experience near or farsightedness, or suffer from a type of refractive problem, this surgery could treat it. Light entering our eyes doesn’t focus on our retinas, and instead focuses behind the retina farsighted people and in front of the retina for people with nearsightedness.

Imagines can then appear blurry or out of focus. Refractive ophthalmic surgery can fix the error and allow light to properly focus on the retina. This is done to alleviate the need for corrective glasses and to also improve vision.

There are a variety of refractive surgery methods, including:

  • Conductive Keratoplasty (CK)
  • Intacs, Intracorneal Rings or ICRs
  • Laser Assisted In Situ Keratomileusis (LASIK)
  • Photorefractive Keratectomy (PRK)
  • Laser Assisted Subepithelial Keratomileusis (LASEK) or Epi-LASIK
  • Glaucoma

Glaucoma is a common problem that raises intraocular pressure by attacking the optic nerve. Glaucoma can lead to vision loss, but there are two distinct types of surgery that can potentially treat the problem, including:

  • Laser surgery that uses a beam of light to treat trabecular mesh work.
  • Incisional procedures: Also known as “filtering surgery”, these are designed to produce a new drainage hole in the eye. The newly formed drainage hole allows for aqueous fluid to come out of the artificial canal and work their way around the clogged drainage routes.
  • Cataracts

Cataract extraction is the most common type of ophthalmic procedure. Age, illness and trauma can all lead to cataracts, when the crystalline lens of the eye becomes cloudy and opaque. This cloudiness is known as a cataract, and it can impede on the eye’s ability to focus a clear image on our retina. This, unfortunately, can cause vision loss.

If you are experiencing a large number of cataracts, the ophthalmologist may have to completely extract or replace the lens in your procedure.

There are a number of cataract procedures that can be performed, including:

  • Intracapsular Cataract Extraction (ICCE)
  • Extracapsular Cataract Extraction (ECCE)
  • Laser-Assisted Cataract Surgery (LACS)
  • Cryoanalgesia
  • Phaco or Phacoemulsification
  • Corneal

Corneal procedures are all those that are designed to manipulate the cornea. Corneal types of ophthalmic surgeries involve most refractive procedures as they also involve modification of the cornea to improve your vision. You may also require corneal transplant surgery, which is where a damaged or diseased cornea is replaced with an organ donor’s cornea.

Other types of corneal procedures include:

  • Phototherapeutic Keratectomy (PTK)
  • Pterygium Excision
  • Penetrating Keratoplasty (PK)
  • Oculoplastic

Oculoplastic procedures can be performed when the eye or its surrounding structures require reconstructing. This can include:

  • A brow lift: Otherwise known as “browplasty”, this is the reconstruction of the forehead or brow bone.
  • Blepharoplasty: Eyelid surgery where excessive skin, muscle and fat are removed from the eyelid to correct sagging or puffy eyes.

Oculoplastic surgeries can also include the partial or complete removal of the eye itself, including:

  • Enucleation: When the eye is removed but the muscles and orbital contents remain.
  • Evisceration: When the eye and all of its surrounding contents are removed.
  • Externation: When the entire orbital content is removed, including the actual eye, surrounding fat, extraocular muscles and connective tissues.
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