New LASIK Research Very Revealing

Lasik Research This year's ASCRS meeting proved very enlightening as scientific data revealed that the extent to which patients realize 20/20 vision following surgery may depend on whether a surgeon uses a microkeratome blade or femtosecond laser to perform surgery.

According to Roger Steinert, M.D., President of ASCRS in 2005, a surgeon's selection of a blade vs. a bladeless procedure may indeed affect patient's outcome, and their odds of realizing 20/20 vision.

Whereas in the past surgeons speculated that bladeless procedures may produce varying outcomes, now that speculation is grounded in scientific data. The odds of achieving better levels of vision, including 20/20 vision seem much higher when surgeons use the IntraLase procedure compared with traditional LASIK.

The IntraLase procedure is a bladeless procedure involving use of a femtosecond laser to create a corneal flap during surgery. Theoretically, surgeons have recognized for some time that use of the femtosecond laser was much safer than use of the microkeratome blade, but now they have concrete evidence to prove it.

Most patients undergoing IntraLase procedures have a higher chance of coming out of surgery with 20/20 vision or better. This doesn't mean patients with LASIK won't have 20/20 vision, simply IntraLase may offer a better chance of having near perfect vision following surgery. For this reason alone some patients will opt for IntraLase, despite the higher cost of this procedure.

LASIK and IntraLase
LASIK and the IntraLase procedure require two steps. First, the surgeon must create a corneal flap and fold it back to reshape the cornea using an excimer laser. During the LASIK procedure, this flap is created using a microkeratome, or blade.

The IntraLase procedure or "bladeless" procedure (or all laser as some refer to it) requires use of a laser to create a corneal flap. Many studies show there are now more rates of patients with 20/20 vision after use of the IntraLase procedure compared with the LASIK procedure.

Previous scientific advancements in laser surgery focused on improving the second step of the laser process, where the surgeon shapes the cornea. These innovations including Wavefront technology allow surgeons to map the eye so they can more accurately ablate the corneal tissue needed to create better vision.

The IntraLase procedure is still considered by far the best choice for patients, offering better vision (20/20 usually) and reduced risks for complications resulting from surgery.

The microkeratome may lead to certain complications including a higher risk for high or low spots in the corneal flap or an irregular corneal surface.

Still, talk with any surgeon and they will tell you they have their own ideas about what surgery is best for their patients. Some patients may not be good candidates for IntraLase, thus will have no choice but to use the traditional LASIK procedure. The good news here is LASIK is still associated with very good outcomes among well-screened patients. Just make sure you find a competent surgeon with man years experience performing LASIK procedures, and you will optimize your odds for a solid outcome.

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