IntraLase Guide - Bladeless LASIK

Intralase Bladeless Lasik

How is IntraLase different from traditional LASIK?
During typical LASIK surgery, a special oscillating blade, called a microkeratome, is used to cut a flap in the cornea. This flap is then folded back, and a laser is used to shape the tissue underneath. Once the shaping is complete, the flap is put back in place to heal.

With IntraLase, no blade is used; instead the flap is cut using computer-guided, infrared laser energy. For this reason, IntraLase is sometimes referred to as "bladeless" or "all-laser" LASIK. Once the flap has been cut, the procedure continues as in traditional LASIK.

Comparing complications
There are some complications associated with the use of a metal blade during surgery:

  • Uneven or thin flap edges - can tear and/or result in an abnormal corneal surface which causes vision defects

  • Partial or improperly formed flaps - sometimes called "buttonhole flaps," these can cause scarring that can obstruct vision.

While IntraLase may reduce the risk of the above complications, there are other side effects associated with all-laser LASIK:

  • Photophobia - light sensitivity. Many surgeons report that this complication is only temporary and can be resolved with steroid eye drops within a few weeks.

  • Superficial bleeding (subconjunctival hemorrhage) - Bleeding in the white part of the eye. During LASIK surgery, the eye is held in place with suction while the flap is cut. IntraLase uses lower suction than traditional LASIK, but the suction is in place longer. Because of this extra time, sometimes minor bleeding can occur, but this is temporary and harmless.

Advantages and costs

  • People who are ineligible for traditional LASIK because of thin corneas may be good candidates for IntraLase. A flap cut by a microkeratome can be 100-200 microns thick, but IntraLase is more precise, consistently producing flaps as thin as 100 microns, making it the better choice for thin corneas.

  • Some doctors believe that laser-made flaps adhere and heal better than those cut with a microkeratome.

  • Some studies have shown that less enhancements (additional surgeries) are needed when IntraLase is used.

  • IntraLase increases LASIK cost by around $300 per eye, but some surgeons work exclusively with bladeless LASIK and bundle this cost into their usual LASIK fee.

Learn more about IntraLase bladeless LASIK surgery on our forums!