Refractive Surgery and the Excimer Laser

Visible sun light is made up of scattered rays of energy that contains all the colors of the rainbow from red to violet

What Is Laser Light?

Normal light from the sun or a light bulb is made up of a range of energy that scatters and radiates in all directions. A rainbow shows the spectrum of visible colors, from red to violet, that makes up normal or white light.

With Laser light all the rays are the same color and travel in the same direction (coherent).

Laser light is not radiation, as are x-rays, cosmic rays and gamma rays. It is made of a single color or wavelength of light, with all of the light rays traveling in the same direction (coherent light). The light itself is safe and does not become effective in medical treatment until it becomes highly concentrated through the use of special mirrors and lenses.

The Excimer Laser

A Laser contains a device to create light in a similar manner as a light bulb, but more sophisticated and precise. The direction, focal point, intensity and release of the light from the tube, are precisely controlled by the surgeon and a computer. As laser light is produced it is relatively weak. Then the beam passes through a system of lenses to focus and concentrate the energy to a fine point. As it gets closer to the focal point, the energy becomes more concentrated and the beam gains strength.

Laser light reaches its maximum strength at the focal point, the point where all the rays converge. As the light passes the focal point, the strength of the beam rapidly diminishes and it can not affect other parts of the eye.

Reshaping Vision

Instead of using heat to alter tissues like other lasers, an Excimer Laser beam breaks the bonds that link tissues together with only minimal effect on surrounding tissues. These unique properties allow the Excimer Laser to be used in refractive surgery to reshape the surface of the cornea. A computer, programmed by the doctor for each person's own correction factors, controls the laser and the reshaping of the cornea. After surgery, light rays focus more precisely on the retina.

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