Types of Eye Surgery
Eye surgery, also referred to as ophthalmic or ocular surgery, is a type of surgical procedure that is performed on the eye or the surrounding tissues. There are a number of different types of eye surgeries including refractive surgery, corneal surgery, glaucoma surgery, cataract surgery, and oculoplastic (cosmetic) surgery.
The goal of refractive surgery is to improve a patient’s vision. An individual who is either nearsighted or farsighted has a refractive error in the interior of their eye. Light entering the eye does not properly focus on the retina, instead focusing in front of the retina in nearsighted individuals or behind the retina in farsighted individuals. The result is that viewed images appear blurry and out of focus. Refractive surgery corrects this error, allowing light to focus directly on the retina, thereby improving vision and eliminating the need for corrective lenses.
There are numerous methods of refractive surgery, the most popular of which are LASIK (laser assisted in-situ keratomileusis), LASEK (laser assisted sub-epithelial keratomileusis) as known as Epi-LASIK, PRK (Photorefractive keratectomy), CK (conductive keratoplasty), and ICRs or Intacs (Intracorneal rings).
Corneal surgery is any surgery that involves manipulation of the cornea of the eye. This encompasses nearly all types of refractive surgeries since the cornea is modified in order to improve the individual’s vision. It also includes corneal transplant surgery, a procedure by which a damaged or diseased cornea is removed and replaced with a clear cornea from an organ donor. Other types of corneal surgery are PK (penetrating keratoplasty), PTK (phototherapeutic keratectomy), and Pterygium excession.
Glaucoma is a disease that attacks the optic nerve, resulting in loss of vision and a rise in intraocular pressure. Glaucoma surgeries assist in combating the disease by lowering intraocular pressure. This may be accomplished by decreasing the amount of aqueous produced in the eye or by encouraging the release of excess aqueous humor from the eye.
Cataract extraction is the most common eye surgery performed. Age, illness, or trauma to the eye can sometimes cause the crystalline lens of the eye to become cloudy and opaque. This cloudiness, called a cataract, interferes with the eye’s ability to focus a clear image on the retina, resulting in loss of vision. The presence of significant cataracts requires the removal and replacement of the lens through cataract surgery. Although there are a number of different types of cataract extraction, the two most popular procedures are called ICCE (intracapsular cataract extraction) and ECCE (extracapsular cataract extraction).
Oculoplastic surgery is a type of eye surgery that concerns the reconstruction of the eye and its surrounding structures. Eyelid surgery, or blepharoplasty, removes excessive fat, muscle and skin from the eyelid to correct sagging or puffy eyes. Browplasty, often referred to as a brow lift, is the reconstruction of the forehead and brow bone. Oculoplastic surgery can also involve the removal of the eye itself. Enucleation involves the removal of the eye itself, leaving the muscles surrounding the eye and all orbital contents in place. Evisceration occurs when the eye and all of its contents are removed, leaving just the shell of the sclera in place. Finally, exenteration involves the removal of the entire orbital content. This includes the removal of the eye itself, any extraocular muscles, surrounding fat, and all connective tissues.