By Dr Angelo Appiotti

Refractive surgery: a choice beyond 20/20

By 11 November 2019 No Comments
Refractive surgery: a choice beyond 20/20
For many people, 20/20 is synonymous with perfect eyesight and is the goal that most want to attain when they decide to correct their vision problem.
This unit of measurement is not used to measure vision in the strict sense of the term, but rather it expresses our visual acuity or visus, namely the ability of our eyes to clearly identify even the smallest details around us.

Contrary to what most people may think, 20/20 is not the highest acuity, but just the one that is conventionally used to refer to normal visual function. The maximum visual acuity of a healthy eye, called emmetropic eye, can even be 20/10. Therefore, visual acuity does not express neither a vision problem nor its extent, however an abnormal value can be the red flag of a potential malfunction, such as myopia, hyperopia and astigmatism, or of an ocular disease like cataract or maculopathy.

But let’s go back to the big question: is it possible to reach 20/20 vision with refractive surgery?

There’s not just one answer. Results always depend on the refractive error that the patient has, the development of his eyes by the age of 12-13, and other factors that are way more complex. But one thing’s for sure: without the expertise of the surgeon and laser technology, it is impossible to achieve it. An aspect that few people consider (and few surgeons explain) is that the difference between a valuable surgeon that specialises in vision correction surgery and another one lies in the ability to create an individual nomogram which always leads to the same final result, even when starting from completely different vision problems. This can only be achieved by surgeons who have successfully performed many surgeries and have thus been able to customise all the steps instead of using the standard ones defined by laser machines and equipment manufacturers.
The biggest mistake you can make is thinking that a machine, as state-of-the-art as it may be, could completely replace the experience of a surgeon. Technology may be of great help, but only for surgeons who have excellent manual skills and extensive expertise: ReLEX SMILE, for instance, is a combination of great precision laser procedures and excellent manual skills, whereas PRK is too often used also by inexperienced doctors with no dexterity.

Therefore, laser surgery can help you reach 20/20 vision but can also give you much more: by correcting your refractive error and allowing you to get rid of glasses and contact lenses, it gives you the opportunity to practise the sports you love, enjoy your hobbies, and live your life to the fullest.