The last blog in our LAISK Blog Series discussed LASIK Screenings. One big part of a screening is to determine which type of refractive surgery you are a candidate for. If LASIK is the answer, one very common question that follows is 'How do they make the flap?' Every wonder how they create a section of corneal tissue that is thinner than a sheet of paper? Well there are basically two ways. One uses a blade to slice across the cornea (this would definitely be considered the 'old school' way of doing things). Current technology uses a separate laser to bevel a section of tissue that matches the contour of your cornea – which is commonly called the 'flap'.
In preparation for the iLASIK procedure, a 3 dimensional topographical map of the cornea is created. The topographical map shows the shape, contour and topography of the cornea. The IntraLase laser uses this topographical image of the cornea and creates a flap following the details of the topographical map with precision accuracy. The IntraLase laser maintains consistent thickness throughout the entire flap. With the IntraLase laser there are no inconsistencies in flap thickness and flap edges are uniform and precise. The IntraLase laser allows the surgeon to more accurately create the flap but customizing the shape, size, and hinge location.
Conversely, the metal blade of the microkeratome can create uneven flap edges, resulting in abnormal corneal surfaces and vision defects such as irregular astigmatism. The microkeratome cuts to the same depth across the corneal surface, and cannot adjust to the topography of the cornea. This creates a flap that is thinner in some areas and thicker in other areas, resulting in incomplete or improperly formed “buttonhole” flaps that can cause vision-threatening scars. With bladed procedures the surgeon cannot customize the flap. All blade-created flaps are round, regardless of the shape of the cornea; and the surgeon cannot vary the hinge location.
The IntraLase laser uses infrared laser energy to apply a precise pattern of tiny bubbles just below the corneal surface. Corneal tissue is “separated” using an IntraLase laser rather than “cut” using a microkeratome blade. This allows the corneal tissue to be targeted and divided at a molecular level without heat or impact to surrounding tissue.
Using IntraLase LASIK (iLASIK), people with thinner corneas who were once considered unsuitable for LASIK may now be candidates for the procedure. This is due to the precision of iLASIK. iLASIK technology produces flaps that are thinner than flaps created by the bladed microkeratome. This is important in order to maintain corneal stability. Surgeons want to leave as much corneal thickness under the flap as possible. Generally speaking, the thinner the corneal flap the better, because this leaves a greater amount of corneal tissue under the flap for treatment.
Some of the advantages of iLASIK (IntraLase LASIK):
People who were not previously considered candidates for LASIK are often times candidates for iLASIK
There is a lower risk of eye infection or contamination during the creation of the IntraLase flap. This is because the tear film and other debris are not “dragged” under the flap, as can occur with a bladed microkeratome.
Complications such as “buttonhole” or partially formed flaps are associated with bladed microkeratome procedures.
Faster healing time with IntraLase LASIK.
Study results have shown that bladeless iLASIK procedures produce a lower incidence of dry eye after LASIK
Fewer enhancements (touch-ups) procedures are required when bladeless iLASIK is performed.
Bladed microkeratomes create uneven flap edges, resulting in abnormal corneal surfaces and vision defect such as irregular astigmatism.
iLASIK is the most state-of-the-art technology available, and is completely customized based on the topographical map of your cornea. This is important because corneas are like fingerprints – no two are the same.
LASIK is no time to go “generic”. Your vision is too important. When scheduling your LASIK procedure, request iLASIK by name and have peace of mind knowing you are having the safest procedure available today. iLASIK has been used in 14 million procedures, and that number is growing every day. The results speak for themselves.
Check out our other LASIK blogs:
- LASIK Screenings
- LASIK: Eliminating Glare & Halos
- LASIK over 40
- PRK versus LASIK
- Monovision LASIK
- Custom LASIK
- Different Lasers
- Preparing for LASIK
- LASIK Recovery