Laser Surgery

About Laser Surgery

At Columbia, we are experts in treating Cornea and Exterior conditions and vision problems with laser surgery. We use a few main types:

  • Phototherapeutic Keratectomy (PTK) – This surgery can treat recurrent corneal erosions, remove some corneal scarring, and treat certain cornea dystrophies and infections.
    For this treatment, doctors can use an excimer laser to eliminate the outermost thin layers of diseased corneal tissue and etch away the surface problems associated with many corneal dystrophies and scars. Healthy tissue can then grow over the new, smooth surface. The laser is controlled with a computer, and damage to surrounding areas is minimal or non-existent. Sometimes the doctor will also use a medicine called mitomycin-C after the PTK treatment to reduce the risk of a side effect called corneal haze.
    While recovery from a corneal transplant takes months, recovery from PTK takes only days. Vision can come back very quickly, especially if the problem was in the top layer of the cornea. The PTK procedure has a good success rate, and is especially useful for people with inherited disorders, whose scars, or other corneal problems harm vision by blocking the way light hits the retina. Because PTK reshapes the stroma of the cornea, a person might need a different eyeglass or contact lens prescription after this procedure. This is because PTK can change a person's refractive error.
  • Photorefractive Keratectomy (PRK) – A laser vision correction procedure to reduce dependence on prescription eyeglasses. In PRK, the physician removes the epithelium (the outermost layer of the cornea) and uses the laser (an ultraviolet light beam) to reshape the cornea and correct the vision. After the procedure, the epithelium usually heals within a week’s time. In near-sighted eyes, the laser flattens a cornea that is too steep, while in far-sighted eyes, the laser steepens a cornea that is too flat.
  • Laser-Assisted In Situ Keratomileusis (LASIK) – A flap in the cornea is created using a small blade or a special kind of laser. At Columbia, we primarily use the Intralase laser to create the LASIK flaps, since it is more precise and allows the flap to adhere better. 

Problems such as myopia, hyperopia, and astigmatism can be treated with either PRK or LASIK, and both procedures achieve similar vision correction results.