Maryland Eye Associates
800 Prince Frederick Boulevard
Prince Frederick, MD 20678
New Technologies In LASIK Vision Correction
For those patients who are nearsighted, farsighted, or have astigmatism, LASIK surgery offers the opportunity to throw away their glasses or contact lenses. As with most technologies, with time technology improves. LASIK is no exception. Since being introduced in the mid 1990s, a number of innovative improvements have evolved. I will briefly discuss several.
LASIK surgery consists of two basic related steps. The first is to create a thin delicate flap of corneal tissue. The second step is to lift the flap and treat the underlying tissue (corneal stroma) with the excimer laser to reshape it and correct the patients refractive error. Until recently, an osculating blade (micro keratome) was used to create the corneal flap. Now a second laser (known as IntraLase) is used to create the flap. This laser is more precise than the micro keratome, but takes a few minutes longer to complete the treatment. Most surgeons believe IntraLase is safer than the micro keratome.
Another new LASIK innovation is the so-called Wavefront technology. Wavefront is a new and more accurate method of measuring the refractive status of the patients eyes. Traditionally, to determine the refractive status of an eye, eye doctors perform a “refraction.” This is the test where the patient looks through a device (phoropter) with two holes and lenses and the doctor asks which lens makes their vision improve. Through a trial and error process with different lenses, the doctor determines the “refraction” of the patient. This information is then manually loaded into the laser and the treatment is carried out.
In Wavefront technology, a high-tech instrument measures the refraction without patient response. Ultraviolet light is directed into the patients eye and in a few seconds the refraction is determined. This data is checked by the surgeon, and then loaded onto a floppy disc and into the laser computer. The laser then carries out the treatment. The surgical procedure is the same as with traditional LASIK surgery except that the Wavefront data drives the laser. This results in a more precise treatment for each eye and better, sharper vision. When considering LASIK, be sure to discuss these issues with your surgeon.
Technology advances will continue to improve and make LASIK safer and more reliable.