Bladeless LASIK: Pros, Cons and Everything Between

Bladeless Lasik

Key Features Of IntraLase
First there was LASIK, now there is bladeless LASIK. There are so many innovations many can't tell LASIK from basic. Thank goodness someone is here to help!

Bladeless LASIK, often referred to as the IntraLase procedure, involves use of a laser to create a corneal flap. Traditional lasik procedures involve use of a microkeratome or blade to create the corneal flap needed to perform LASIK surgery.

Typically with any LASIK procedure, whether bladeless or traditional, a surgeon must first create a hinged corneal flap on the front part of the eye. The surgeon then lifts this flap and uses a laser to reshape the eye.

This allows light rays to enter the eye more clearly, provider sharper vision and clearer focus. Once a surgeon replaces the flap, healing progresses quickly.

Bladeless LASIK or IntraLase involves use of what doctor's refer to as "femtosecond" technology. That means a special laser called a femtosecond creates the corneal flap using pulsing energy.

Advantages and Disadvantages
There are many advantages for surgeons interested in using the bladeless LASIK procedure. These include:

  • A reduced risk for corneal flap complications. Many surgeons and researchers believe there is less risk for complications when a surgeon creates a flap using a laser instead of the microkeratome.
  • Reduced risk of dry eye. Dry eye is a common side effect of traditional LASIK procedures. Many customers and patients report less dry eye after the IntraLase procedure compared with those receiving traditional LASIK.
  • Precise correction. Many surgeons feel the bladeless procedure offers greater control and hence allows surgeons to create a better flap that is more equal in size and depth. This may reduce complications associated with flap irregularities.
While this sounds good, are there any negative outcomes? For one, bladeless procedures are often more expensive than traditional LASIK. Many do not feel the benefits outweigh the increased price of the procedure.

Some surgeons report using the microkeratome reduces discomfort because the procedure goes much faster. Less suction of the eye may also encourage some surgeons to use the microkeratome or traditional procedure to create corneal flaps compared with the bladeless procedure. This helps improve patient comfort. Still, many surgeons admit the microkeratome increases the risk of creating an irregular flap or buttonhole flap, which may result in complications for patients beyond what is normal and necessary.

Patients using IntraLase however, may experience greater light sensitivity following surgery. While the risk is low for this complication, for patients experiencing it, the side effect can be irritating.

Who May Benefit
Patients who have had previous LASIK surgery and experienced problems with flap creation or complications may benefit from the newer technology used in IntraLase procedures. To decide whether you are eligible for this procedure, you should consult with a qualified eye care professional. Together, the two of you can talk about the pros and cons of each surgery, so you can decide which procedure you feel most comfortable with.

Many patients will find the differences and risks between the two types of surgery relatively minimal. If your vision needs minor correction, chances are you will have good results from traditional LASIK surgery. If however, you are one of those people that seem predisposed to complications, including rare ones, you might consider talking with your doctor more in-depth about the IntraLase procedure. We all have our quirks after all. The most important thing is you feel comfortable with your doctor, and your decision.

If you do decide to go with the bladeless procedure, make sure you find a competent professional that has experiencing conducting surgery using a laser only. You don't want to be a human guinea pig for a new surgeon trying a new technology they are not well-versed in.

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