The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has issued full guidance to the NHS in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland on (photorefractive (laser) surgery for the correction of refractive errors. All the information on this procedure can be found at www.nice.org.uk/IPG164.
It replaces the previous guidance on laser in situ keratomileusis for the treatment of refractive errors (Interventional Procedures Guidance no. 164, December 2004), following consideration of a systematic review of LASIK and LASEK.
Laser in situ keratomileusis (LASIK) is used to treat refractive errors such as short-sightedness (myopia), astigmatism and low degrees of long-sightedness (hyperopia or hypermetropia).
Refractive errors are usually corrected by wearing spectacles or contact lenses. Surgical treatments have been developed, including photorefractive keratectomy (PRK), microsurgery and lens implants. PRK involves sculpting the surface of the cornea with a laser. The type of surgery depends largely on the type and extent of the focusing error to be corrected.
LASIK involves the use of an ophthalmic excimer laser to reshape the cornea in order to correct focusing errors. It is similar to PRK, but there is an additional step of creating a corneal flap.