Your vision works in two parts, although most people only notice the obvious one—your eyes. Your brain’s visual cortex plays an equally important role in sight though.
How Vision Works
Your eye works to gather information and your brain works to process it. If you injure your eye, you won’t see as well. However, what if you injure the visual cortex of your brain? You still won’t see as well. Someone with perfectly-working eyes could still be blind if their visual cortex is damaged.
Conversely, you can undergo treatments that help you see better. For example, a pair of glasses or contacts at the appropriate prescription strength can help you see clearly. So can LASIK surgery.
Better Sight, Better Brain?
In some cases, a patient’s visual processing can improve after LASIK surgery. An example of this is treatment for amblyopia, more commonly known as “lazy eye.”
Ambloyopia develops in early childhood caused by “an abnormality in the neural pathway in the visual systems. In early childhood, if the eye gathers blurry information, the visual cortex can decide to focus on using the other, stronger eye. Research revealed evidence that we can improve these neural pathways later in life.
What LASIK Does to Help
When the affected eye’s vision simply isn’t clear enough to develop your brain’s processing, LASIK can help strengthen the eyes and the brain (as long as the affected eye can be corrected to 20/40). The results vary by person. Some patients use computer programs like RevitalVision after a LASIK surgery to retrain the visual cortex.
The Exception to the Rule
The brain’s pathways work in tandem with your eyes to determine your visual acuity. In some cases of ambloyopia, LASIK surgery has the potential to improve the brain’s ability to process visual information by correcting an eye’s ability to receive information. The keyword here is “potential.” It is important to note that ambloyopia, or lazy eye, is the only condition that has a body of evidence documenting improvement of both the brain and eye.
This also does apply to ambloyopia if it was caused by an eye which points in the wrong direction or if an obstacle blocks the eye. In these cases, LASIK won’t generate an effect in the visual cortex.