Some of our patients simply want to wake up in the morning with clear vision, which is a wonderful feeling. Nothing is blurred. No reaching for your glasses. Nobody wants to wear spectacles in the shower to see through the steam. On vacation: no prescription sunglasses; no worries about wearing contact lenses in the swimming pool. Never worry about foggy glasses or contact lens cleaning solutions ever again. Never worry about losing your spectacles or your contact lenses. Laser eye surgery is the gift that keeps giving – every moment you’re awake.
Other patients come to us because they suffer from a disease (keratoconus, scars after keratoplasty) of their cornea that may be improved by therapeutic laser surgery. Only a handful of institutes in Europe focus on this important and challenging aspect. Here at ELZA, we have an international reputation for fixing the most challenging cases. We are also very experienced in repairing laser surgeries that went wrong.
Laser eye surgery involves using an excimer or femtosecond laser to change the shape of the clear part at the front of your eye, the cornea, to correct your vision.
Laser eye surgery can correct both refractive error (shortsightedness, farsightedness) and astigmatism.
Laser in situ keratomileusis (LASIK) involves the creation of a “flap” in the cornea with a femtosecond laser. The patient is then moved to a second laser – the excimer laser – and the flap is lifted. The part of the cornea that is revealed is then reshaped by the excimer laser. The flap is then closed. The LASIK method exists since 1995.
Transepithelial photoablative refractive keratectomy (TransPRK) involves the use of the excimer laser to reshape the surface of the cornea through the epithelium (trans-epithelial), the top layer of the cornea. No flaps are required (touchless surgery). PRK is performed since 1986.
The entire process will take about 1 hour, as you need to be prepared for the procedure and recieve eyedrops that take time to act. However, the actual time spent under the laser is around 1 minute or less. Afterwards, we will tell you how to care for your eyes after surgery and give you all of the eyedrops you need in an ELZA bag, and a pair of ELZA sunglasses.
Our specialists at ELZA were the first in the world to be able to safely treat very high myopia of up to 12 diopters using transPRK. This was the result of more than 7 years of intense research that led to two awards given to us by the ESCRS (European Society for Cataract and Refractive Surgery).
Small incision lenticule extraction (SMILE) involves the use of a femtosecond laser to cut out a lens shape (the lenticule) inside the cornea, and a small tunnel to the surface of the cornea. The surgeon dissects the lenticule from the rest of the cornea with a small spatula, then uses tweezers to pull it out through the tunnel.
No other international group has published more scientific studies on the biomechanics of SMILE than us.
Every eye is different, and each method has pros and cons. For example, while LASIK has a fast visual recovery, it weakens the cornea more than the other methods, and occasionally, complications can occur that are related to the flap. These include flap detachment, and epithelial cells migrating and growing in the flap.
SMILE has a relatively fast visual recovery, and leaves a stronger cornea than LASIK, but removing the lenticule can be challenging (especially with small corrections). Failure to extract the lenticule completely can cause big problems, as unlike LASIK and TransPRK, postoperative enhancements (i.e. Re-SMILE) can be problematic, especially for small corrections.
TransPRK has a slower visual recovery than the other methods, but avoids the potential flap complications of LASIK, and the lenticule removal issues of SMILE. Because TransPRK is a flapless procedure, this means that the cornea is also stronger afterwards than a post-LASIK cornea, which is why we typically recommend this procedure.
The ELZA Institute is home to several world expert ophthalmologists. Prof. Hafezi has over 20 years of experience performing laser refractive surgery, and handles some of the most complicated cases, and has helped develop the excimer laser that is used in our clinic.
The ELZA Institute has a research group at the University of Zurich that investigates corneal biomechanics. This means we have a comprehensive understanding of your eye – and the laser – to give you the best outcomes possible.