Short Sightedness And Laser Eye Surgery

Short-sightedness is also known as myopia; a common medical condition that makes objects in the distance seem blurred, whilst those close up remain clear. The condition varies in severity from person to person. The symptoms can start at any time, but research shows that this is most often at the time of puberty when the eye is growing at its fastest. As the eye continues to develop and grow the condition can worsen.


At distance objects seem blurred when suffering Myopia.

The structure of the eye determines the way in which light rays penetrate it. These light rays need to reach the retina, which is situated right at the back of the eye. If they can't fully reach the back, because the eye is too long, it will affect a person's ability to clearly see objects in the distance. When the structure of the eye has an adverse affect on one's vision, it is known as a refractive eye condition.

What Causes Myopia?

Short-sightedness can be caused by genetic factors. If one or both parents have myopia, their children may also develop the condition.

It can also be caused by environmental or lifestyle factors. Children who spend most of their time indoors and looking at close up objects, such as books or computer screens, may eventually have difficulty when focusing on distant objects. It is important to make sure that children get out into non-built up areas to give their eyes a break and to be able to look into the distance to adjust their eyes.

Diet can also be an issue. Eating unhealthily or eating too much refined starch can affect the growth of they eye.

In older people short-sightedness could be caused by cataracts which makes the lens of the eye cloudy, thus making vision more blurred.

It is also believed that cases of short-sightedness are higher in females than in males.

Related Eye Conditions

Short-sighted people are at risk of developing serious eye conditions such as glaucoma, retinal detachment or macular degeneration. It is therefore imperative to have regular eye tests, especially for people over the age of forty.

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Treating Myopia

There are three main treatment options for short-sightedness. Corrective lenses, which can be contact lenses or glasses, laser eye surgery or artificial lens implants.


Glasses are made specifically for each person depending on how severe their short-sightedness is. A visit to an optician is a great place to start if you feel that you could benefit from having glasses.

Contact Lenses

Contact lenses are small and lightweight and can hardly be seen when placed in the eye. They can be worn daily, but need to be removed at night. As with glasses, the best place to start is to visit your optician to discuss your options.

Laser Eye Surgery

Laser eye surgery has become one of the most popular ways of treating short-sightedness. It is a quick and highly effective procedure in which a laser is used to reshape the cornea. Light can then pass through it more easily, and thus improve vision.

  • LASIK Eye Surgery - Laser in situ keratectomy (LASIK) is one of the most common forms of laser eye surgery. A small flap is cut into the surface of the cornea which is then folded back so that the laser can penetrate and reshape it. The flap is then folded back into place and will heal naturally.
  • LASEK Eye Surgery - Laser epithelial keratomileusis (LASEK) is where the surface of the cornea is removed first so that the laser can then reshape the cornea without any interference. When the work is complete, the surface of the cornea is put back in place and allowed to heal naturally.
  • PRK Eye Surgery - Photorefractive keratectomy (PRK) is very similar to LASEK eye surgery, but the surface of the cornea is not put back in place and a new one will eventually grow. It is most suitable for patients with thin corneas.

The Laser Surgery Procedure

Laser eye surgery is done on an outpatient basis and there is no overnight stay involved. It takes between thirty minutes and an hour to complete and you will need someone to pick you up afterwards as you will not be able to drive.

Pain is minimal but you should be given drops and painkillers to help with your recovery. There will be fluctuations in vision for the first few days whilst the eyes settle down.

9/10 people report significant improvement in vision after laser eye surgery.

When Should I Not Have Laser Eye Surgery?

People under the age of twenty-one should not have laser eye surgery as the eye is still likely to be developing. If you are a diabetic, it is also not recommended as diabetes can cause abnormalities in the eye and these could be worsened by the treatment. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, your hormones may affect your eyesight, so it is best to wait until you are no longer breastfeeding in order to get a more accurate diagnosis and the right treatment for you.

Lens Implant Surgery

Lens implant surgery is where an artificial lens is added to the eye. Each lens is specifically designed for the eye of each patient in order to straighten out any particular corneal defects. The surgery is carried out by making a small incision in the cornea, then inserting the implant so that it sits on top of the natural lens. However, phakic lens implants are usually only offered to people under the age of forty-five, because eyesight worsens naturally as we get older.

Artificial Lens Replacement

Artificial lens replacement is a relatively new procedure in which the natural lens of the eye is removed and replaced with an artificial one.

Short-Sightedness Treatment Availability on the NHS

The NHS offer vouchers towards the cost of glasses or contact lenses in certain circumstances e.g. if you are under sixteen or are receiving benefits. If you are not eligible, glasses can cost anywhere between fifty and five hundred pounds, depending on the make. Designer glasses can sometimes be even more expensive. A months supply of contact lenses can cost anywhere between twenty and thirty pounds.

Laser eye surgery is not available on the NHS and can cost anywhere between £800 and £1500 per eye. Lens implant surgery can cost over two thousand pounds per eye.

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