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Sharper Vision for Peak Performance: A Runner’s Guide to Laser Eye Surgery

Posted: Sep 04 2023

Understanding Laser Eye Surgery

In the world of running, every second counts. Whether you’re a casual jogger or a seasoned marathoner, a clear vision is essential for peak performance. Imagine the frustration of constantly adjusting your glasses or worrying about your contact lenses during a race. Fortunately, a solution has revolutionised the running experience for many athletes – laser eye surgery. In this blog, we’ll delve into the world of laser eye surgery from a UK perspective and explore how it can transform your running journey.

Before we dive into the specifics, let’s take a moment to understand what laser eye surgery is and how it can correct common vision problems like near-sightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. Laser eye surgery, or refractive surgery, is a medical procedure designed to reshape the cornea – the clear front surface of the eye – to improve its ability to focus light onto the retina.

Different Types of Laser Eye Surgery

In the United Kingdom, several types of laser eye surgery are available. The most common procedures include:

  1. LASIK (Laser-Assisted in Situ Keratomileusis): LASIK is the most popular form of laser eye surgery in the UK. It involves creating a thin flap on the cornea, reshaping the underlying tissue with a laser, and repositioning the flap.
  2. SmartSight: SmartSight is an innovative laser procedure referred to as keyhole surgery because it doesn’t require a flap to be created in the cornea. A lenticule or disc of tissue is created by the laser and removed through a keyhole incision.
  3. LASEK (Laser Epithelial Keratomileusis) or PRK (Photorefractive Keratectomy): These are surface laser forms and an alternative to LASIK. Instead of a flap being created, laser is applied to the surface of the cornea to conserve tissue, and it is a good choice for patients with thinner corneas who may be unsuitable for LASIK.

Each procedure has its advantages and considerations, which should be discussed with your eye surgeon during the consultation.

Laser Eye Surgery Eligibility for Runners

Not everyone is a suitable candidate for laser eye surgery. Various factors determine eligibility, including age, prescription stability, and eye health. In the UK, the general criteria for laser eye surgery candidates typically include:

  1. Age: Candidates should typically be at least 18 years old for most laser eye surgery procedures. However, age can be a less important factor than other considerations.
  2. Prescription Stability: Your prescription should have remained stable for at least a year before considering surgery. Significant changes in your prescription can affect the outcome.
  3. Eye Health: Having a healthy cornea and retina is crucial. Conditions like glaucoma, cataracts, or severe dry eye may disqualify you as a candidate.

Your journey towards laser eye surgery starts with a comprehensive consultation with an experienced eye surgeon. During this consultation, your surgeon will evaluate your eligibility, discuss your specific visual needs as a runner, and answer any questions you may have.

Preparing for Laser Eye Surgery

Once you’ve been deemed eligible and decided to go ahead with the surgery, several essential steps are needed in preparation.

Pre-operative Examination

Before the surgery, you will undergo a pre-operative examination. This examination is crucial for assessing the health of your eyes and obtaining precise measurements to guide the surgical procedure. During this visit, your surgeon will use advanced technology to map your cornea and determine the most suitable treatment plan.

Lifestyle Changes

Leading up to the surgery, there are some essential lifestyle changes to consider:

  1. Discontinue Contact Lenses: If you wear contact lenses, you may need to switch to glasses for a few weeks before the surgery. Contact lenses can temporarily alter the shape of your cornea, so it’s essential to let your corneas return to their natural form for accurate measurements.
  2. Avoid Makeup and Perfume: On the day of the surgery, avoid wearing makeup, perfume, or any scented products. Make up can cause debris in the tear film or increase the risk of infection. Scented products are thought to affect laser pulse delivery.
  3. Arrange Transportation: You won’t be able to drive immediately after the surgery, so arrange for someone to take you home after the procedure.

Discussion with Your Surgeon

Finally, before the big day, have an open discussion with your surgeon about your expectations and any concerns you may have. They will provide detailed instructions on what to expect before, during, and after the procedure.

The Laser Eye Surgery Process

Now that you’re prepared for the surgery, let’s explore what happens during the procedure.

Step-by-step Laser Eye Surgery Breakdown

  1. Anaesthesia: Before the surgery begins, you’ll receive numbing eye drops to ensure you don’t feel any pain. Some patients may also receive a mild oral sedative to help them relax.
  2. Flap Creation (LASIK): If you’re undergoing LASIK, a small flap will be created on the cornea using a femtosecond laser.
  3. Laser Reshaping: The excimer laser is then used to reshape the cornea’s curvature, precisely correcting your vision based on your unique prescription.
  4. Flap Repositioning (LASIK): If LASIK is your chosen procedure, the corneal flap is gently repositioned. No sutures are required, as the flap will naturally adhere to the cornea.

The entire procedure is usually quick, typically taking less than 30 minutes for both eyes. Most patients experience little to no discomfort during the process.

Recovery and Downtime

After the surgery, you’ll enter the recovery phase. Let’s explore what to expect during this crucial period.

Immediate Post-surgery Care

  1. Rest: After the procedure, you’ll be encouraged to rest with your eyes closed for a few hours. This helps the healing process and reduces discomfort.
  2. Eye Drops: Your surgeon will prescribe medicated eye drops to prevent infection and reduce inflammation. It’s essential to follow the prescribed dosage and schedule.
  3. Follow-up Appointments: You’ll have several follow-up appointments with your surgeon to monitor your progress and ensure your eyes heal as expected.

Typical Recovery Timeline for Runners

Recovery times can vary, but most runners can expect the following timeline:

1-2 Days: You may experience blurred vision and some discomfort during this period with surface ablation. With LASIK the vision is normally excellent within 4-12 hours. You can resume light activities such as walking.

1-2 Weeks: Your vision will gradually improve, and most patients can return to work within a few days (LASIK/Smart sight) to a week (surface ablation). By 1 week you can resume your normal activities including running and strenuous exercise.

1 Month: Your vision will continue to stabilise and be stable by 3 months in the majority of cases.

It’s essential to follow your surgeon’s recommendations for a smooth recovery.

Benefits of Laser Eye Surgery for Runners

Now that we’ve covered the procedure and recovery, let’s explore how laser eye surgery can benefit runners.

Improved Visual Acuity and Clarity

Laser eye surgery can dramatically improve your visual acuity. This means you’ll see objects more clearly, even at a distance. Imagine spotting that finish line marker or navigating uneven terrain precisely – it’s a game-changer for runners.

Enhanced Peripheral Vision and Depth Perception

Clear vision isn’t just about what’s directly in front of you. Laser eye surgery can enhance your peripheral vision and depth perception, allowing you to react quickly to obstacles and changes in the running environment.

Elimination of Glasses and Contact Lenses

Perhaps one of the most significant advantages for runners is the freedom from glasses and contact lenses. Say goodbye to the annoyance of foggy or rain-splattered glasses and the risk of losing a contact lens mid-race.

Potential Risks and Complications

While laser eye surgery is highly safe and effective, it’s essential to be aware of potential risks and complications.

Common Side Effects

  1. Dry Eyes: Some patients may experience temporary dryness and irritation, which can be managed with lubricating eye drops.
  2. Halos and Glare: Night-time vision may be affected initially, causing halos and glare around lights. This usually improves over time.

Rare Complications

  1. Under correction or Overcorrection: In some cases, the surgery may not fully correct your vision, requiring enhancements or additional procedures.
  2. Infection: While rare, there is a risk of infection, so it’s essential to follow post-operative care instructions meticulously.

Remember that the risk of complications is relatively low, and most patients experience improved vision without significant issues.

Book your Laser Eye Surgery Consultation with OCL Vision Today

In the UK, laser eye surgery gives runners a competitive edge and a more enjoyable running experience. It offers improved visual acuity, enhanced peripheral vision, and the freedom to run without the hassle of glasses or contact lenses. If you’re considering laser eye surgery as a runner, consult an experienced eye surgeon who can assess your eligibility and guide you through the process.

Remember, clear vision is about seeing the path ahead and your full potential as a runner. So, why wait? Choose sharper vision and unlock your peak performance on the track or trail with laser eye surgery. Your running journey will never be the same again.

OCL Vision is England’s only surgeon-owned, comprehensive private eye care group. With OCL Vision surgeons operating in dedicated clinics in London and Elstree, Hertfordshire, patients can access world-class eye care closer to home with a specialist consultant who has dedicated their career to a specific branch of Ophthalmology.

With over 180 years of collective experience in eye surgery, OCL Vision is an elite group of eye surgeons who have performed over 60,000 surgical procedures, published more than 250 research papers, and presented their work nationally and internationally. Together we provide patients with the highest standards of private eye care.

If you have been denied Laser Eye Surgery and would like to discuss other potential treatment options with OCL, make an enquiry online or call on 0203 993 4268

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