LASIK is the generally accepted procedure for doing laser vision correction. Other procedures like PRK, ICL, Clear Lens Extraction are usually done only in special circumstances. LASIK involves the creation of a corneal flap, which can either be done with a mechanical instrument known as the microkeratome. It can also be done using a special laser like the VisuMax Femtosecond Laser from Carl Zeiss or the Intralase. These procedures s are known as No Blade Lasik or Blade Free LASIK, or Intralase-LASIK, iLASIK, or zLASIK. These are all laser procedures, in that the Femtosecond Laser is used to create a corneal flap, and subsequently, corneal reshaping is done by an excimer laser like the MEL 80.
The first step with LASIK is to have a thin corneal flap made to reveal the tissue that will be reshaped to correct nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism. There are two main methods to create a corneal flap; a microkeratome with a metal blade, or a femtosecond laser such as the VisuMax. The creation of the corneal flap with the VisuMax is very fast and takes approximately 20 to 30 seconds, while the complete LASIK procedure may take approximately 15 minutes.
Flap creation with the VisuMax is a completely bladeless procedure. A very accurately focused laser beam is guided through to the cornea in a computerized treatment that is unique to each patient. The laser beam moves across and through the cornea, creating a layer of very tiny bubbles under its path. These bubbles quickly disappear, and the tissue above the bubbles becomes the corneal flap that can be easily lifted by your surgeon.
Here is a video of the procedure:
Everyone has a curved cornea. Nature often provides us with the best answers, and the VisuMax features a unique, curved contact glass to maximize patient comfort. This technology allows for the patient to maintain visual sight during the entire procedure. This is possible since the curved contact interface attaches to the cornea during the treatment and the cornea is only slightly flattened, which prevents unnecessarily high intraocular pressure and stress to the eye. This provides maximum comfort and allows you to see throughout the entire procedure, unlike with microkeratomes or other femtosecond lasers, where your vision is “blacked out” for awhile and patients have reported feeling uncomfortable pressure. Patients often describe the VisuMax procedure like the insertion of a soft contact lens.
Due to the Zeiss high performance optics, the laser beam is guided very precisely to the desired depth, resulting in most accurate flap thickness. In addition, the laser beam is directed in a very focused manner, which allows the doctor to apply only minimum laser energy to the eye during the treatment. As a result, the tissue outside the defined area of the cut remains untouched.
Since the VisuMax is able to create very thin corneal flaps, some patients who were previously not a candidate for LASIK due to thin corneas, are now benefiting from the procedure, thanks to the VisuMax. Dr. Shah will make the final determination.