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Military pilots have previously been considered ineligible for LASIK surgery because of the potential for complications which may result from the extreme conditions they may experience while in flight, such as wind, high altitude, dry air and gravitational forces. It was believed these extreme conditions could compromise the pilot's vision in the event that the corneal flap did not heal fully and completely. However, new technology which allows for all laser LASIK surgery is causing the military to rethink the exclusion of pilots who have undergone LASIK procedures.
The U.S. Navy instituted a new program which enables military aviators to undergo all laser LASIK surgery. These procedures are performed with the aid of an infrared laser which cuts a flap in the cornea precisely and allows for a greatly decreased risk for potential complications. As a result of this improved technology, hopeful military pilots who were previously held back by poor vision now have the potential to pursue the career of their dreams.
Intralase with Custom LASIK is considered one of the best and one of the safest laser eye surgeries available today.
Combining the safety of Intralase and the customization of Custom LASIK, eye surgeon's are now able to use a completely bladeless procedure that is able to identify, measure and correct individual eye imperfections up to 25 times more accurately than with standard LASIK.
Intralase with Custom LASIK is becoming an unprecedented leader in safety and accuracy in laser eye surgery.
Because surgeons must cover the cost of the Intralase equipment, they typically charge $250 to $500 more per eye for blade-free LASIK than for the standard surgery. When given a choice, many patients say they prefer to pay this cost in return for the decreased chance of complications.
Some vision correction surgeons are switching entirely to Intralase and bundling the extra cost into their price structure. Others go on a case-by-case basis, saying that for some patients -- particularly those with mild to moderate nearsightedness and no complicating problems with their corneas -- the extra cost is not worth it.
The actual vision correction provided in blade-free LASIK -- the part done by the excimer laser inside the cornea -- is exactly the same as in standard LASIK. However, some studies suggest that the blade-free technology helps prevent occasional complications with the flap that interfere with visual acuity.
Indeed, several studies of patients who had standard LASIK in one eye and Intralase in the other found that they tended strongly to prefer the Intralase eye.
The blade-free procedure may also help reduce patient anxiety about the operation. At least LASIK surgeon reports that when given a choice, three-quarters of their patients prefer the Intralase before any surgery is even performed.
Many surgeons are moving entirely to Intralase vision correction technology, citing increased safety, better visual acuity among patients, and patient preference.
It should be noted that blade-free vision correction surgery does not entirely remove the risk of flap complications. Study results suggest that for patients with mild or moderate nearsightedness, the Intralase surgery does not offer a great deal of measurable benefit, while for farsighted patients or those with thin or abnormal corneas, it may enable a much more precise correction and thus be worth the extra cost.
In addition, Intralase appears to offer a better experience to those having wavefront or custom LASIK.
If you choose to have Intralase, or bladeless laser surgery, there are certain restrictions for after the procedure that you need to be aware of including:
-You must not wear any eye makeup for three days following the procedure.
-You must not go swimming for two weeks after the procedure.
-You should not rub your eyes for two weeks following the procedure.
-You need to wear sports goggles for one month after surgery when participating in contact sports.
-You will need to use eye drops to prevent infection for one week after the surgery.
-You will most likely see your eye surgeon for check-up's one day after the surgery, one week after the surgery and three months after the surgery.
The above restrictions are typically standard protocol for an eye surgeon to follow after Intralase. Your surgeon may not follow each timeline. It is best to discuss any restrictions with your eye surgeon prior to having the bladeless LASIK procedure done.
If you have been hearing a lot about Intralase and are interested in the procedure, the following are important questions to ask your eye surgeon when considering this option:
-Why would Intralase be appropriate for me? Your eye surgeon should have a list of pros and cons and if you are a candidate for the procedure.
-How is Intralase different from LASIK? Your surgeon should discuss with you the differences and which one would be a better option for you and why.
-Is Intralase safe? Your surgeon should give you safety information, such as history of the laser and statistics from those who have had Intralase.
-Is LASIK unsafe? Your eye surgeon should explain to you why LASIK isn't always the best choice for certain people and why Intralase has advantages over LASIK.
-Is Intralase the same as Custom LASIK? The answer should be no and your eye surgeon should explain why.
-How do the visual outcomes of Intralase compare to that of LASIK? Your eye surgeon should explain that the visual outcome for Intralase is often better than 20/20 vision and that Intralase was preferred three to one over LASIK by people how have had the procedure.
-Is Intralase more expensive? In most cases it is, and your eye surgeon should explain the financial aspects of the surgey, and also explain why it's more expensive.
Published reports mention one specific complication, unusual light sensitivity (such as photophobia) after surgery. It is reported that as few as one percent and up to 20 percent of patients who have blade free LASIK, have this complication. The 20 percent was reported by one surgeon who later has his Intralase laser replaced as the company felt his numbers were so high when compared with other surgeons performing Intralase.
Fortunately, the photophobia that may be a result of Intralase usually diminishes within six months following the Intralase procedure.
If you are having any visual disturbances as a result of Intralase, please contact your eye surgeon.
The surgeon uses computer software to guide the Intralase laser, which uses infrared energy to create a series of extremely small (3 microns) bubbles in the central layer of the cornea. The depth and diameter of the flap thus created are calculated with great precision, allowing the surgeon to customize the shape to the patient's eyes and the correction being performed.
One side of the shape being formed is left uncut, so that the surgeon can fold back the top layer after the correction is performed, placing it precisely where it belongs for optimum healing.
Unlike the blades (microkeratomes) in use in standard LASIK, the Intralase allows the surgeon to make corrections to the cut even when the surgery is in progress.
Intralase differs from photo-refractive Keratectomy (PRK), and Epi-LASIK in the way the cornea is prepared for the second step of LASIK, folding back the flap and using the laser to correct vision.
Epi-LASIK uses an epikeratome, which is a blunt separator, to make a flap that is superficial.
PRK gently scrapes the surface of the cornea to prepare it, which may lead to scratching.
With Intralase, a blade never touches your eye; instead the laser makes bubbles by moving back and forth across your eye. The eye surgeon then gently separates the tissue where the bubbles have formed.
PRK and Epi-LASIK may also have more pain involved in the healing process and healing may take longer than with Intralase.
Ask your eye surgeon for more information on these three procedures.
Intralase, also called blade-free LASIK, is a special laser that takes the place of the blade that creates a "flap" in the cornea. With the Intralase laser, surgeons are able to make a smaller and more precise incision into the cornea than available in standard LASIK. After the flap is created, the cornea is shaped just as it is in standard LASIK, with a "cool" far-ultraviolet laser.
This procedure is considered safer than standard LASIK because many LASIK complications were related to the flap. It also allows patients who were previously considered poor candidates for LASIK to have their vision improved surgically.
Many of the criteria for blade-free LASIK are the same as those for standard LASIK. A patient must be over 18 years old, have a stable corrective lens prescription for at least a year, free of eye disease, and not pregnant or nursing.
In addition, however, patients who may have been rejected for LASIK in the past because their corneas are too thin could find that they can still have LASIK using blade-free technology, because the Intralase device is capable of cutting a much shallower "flap" than the older microkeratome (blade) system.
Intralase is not recommended for those who had earlier forms of vision-correction surgery such as radial keratotomy.
Another small side effect of the blade free LASIK, or Intralase, is the increased chance of having a hemorrhage in the eye. It sounds much worse than it is.
Because of the time needed (up to a minute) for the suction ring to be placed on the eye to create the eye flap during the Intralase procedure, there is an increased risk of bleeding. This bleeding is referred to as a hemorrhage.
Be aware that the bleeding is not life threatening, it does not harm the eye, or put your vision at risk and it will heal itself in a matter of days.
Is the Intralase procedure the right one for you? You must always check with your eye surgeon to be 100 percent certain which specific type of laser eye surgery is the correct choice for you. The following information may also be used in determining if the Intralase procedure is for you!
-Are you in good health? Your health is an issue; you must not have any conditions that may deter your proper healing.
-Are you over the age of 18? You must be 18 or older to have Intralase.
-Do you have any eye diseases such as glaucoma or cataracts? The answer should be no.
-Do you have thin corneas and are unsuitable for LASIK? If yes, you may still be eligible for Intralase. Talk to your doctor about your options.
-Are you worried about dry eyes as a side effect? If yes, know that Intralase has been shown to have a reduced number of dry eye occurences as a side effect.
-Are you looking for a safer procedure that carries fewer side effects compared to LASIK? If so, this may be right for you.
Intralase isn't available to everyone, please speak with your eye surgeon for more information.
While Intralase isn't right for everyone, the blade-free lasik vision correction surgery can produce real benefits for some patients. They include:
-- Decreased risk of flap complications.
-- Decreased incidence of postoperative dry eye
-- Unlike other alternatives to LASIK, it preserves many of the benefits of LASIK including a short and largely pain-free recovery.
-- More accurate outcomes in terms of patients' postoperative vision.
-- Benefits of vision correction surgery are available to those who might have previously been poor candidates.
-- Less pressure on the eye during the surgery.
-- Reduced incidence of patients needing a second operation to correct their vision.
-- Flaps created with a laser are less likely to become dislodged later.
Advancements in technology have made it possible for surgeons to create the corneal flap necessary for vision correction surgery with the use of an infrared laser, as opposed to a mechanical blade. This improved technology has greatly improved the precision with which surgeon are able to create a flap in the cornea. With an accuracy of +/- 10 microns, the infrared laser enables the surgeon to create exact cuts which are tailored for each patient individually.
The increased precision during an all laser LASIK procedures stems from the ability to control the thickness, location and angle of the cut in the cornea to create a flap customized for each patient. During the procedure a series of microscopic bubbles are created just beneath the surface of the cornea. These bubbles are placed with great accuracy to ensure the flap adheres properly at the conclusion of the procedure.
Although traditional LASIK is not considered unsafe, blade free LASIK surgery is seen as the safer option. The technology used in blade free LASIK allows the surgeon to make a more precise cut in the cornea and create a flap, which will adhere more readily at the conclusion of the procedure resulting in superior visual acuity and fewer complications after the surgery.
Traditional LASIK surgery and blade free LASIK surgery are performed in the same manner with one important difference. This difference is the way in which the flap in the cornea is created. Traditional LASIK utilizes a handheld blade, while blade free LASIK surgery utilizes an infrared laser controlled by a computer. This laser is precise to a degree of +/- 10 microns making it far superior to a handheld cutting device. As a result of this increased precision, the surgeon can customize the corneal flap for each patient to create a flap which will heal quickly. Additionally, the laser passes through the eye instead of across the cornea. The more precise cutting method, as well as the ability to avoid passing over the cornea creates a safer procedure with decreased potential for complications.
Patients who were either previously told they were not a good candidate for traditional LASIK or who were apprehensive about undergoing LASIK with a microkeratome blade may find blade free LASIK technology is right for them. This is because the more precise cutting method reduces some of the risk involved with the procedure and makes the procedure possible for patients who have conditions which previously made them poor candidates for LASIK.
During blade free LASIK surgery, an infrared laser is used to make a precise cut in the cornea to create a flap which enables the surgeon to reshape the cornea. This laser is controlled by a computer and can be tailored specifically to the patient with precise accuracy, detailing the thickness of the flap as well as the location of the flap. This increased level of precision makes it possible to perform LASIK surgery on some patients who have thinner corneas, larger pupils and greater than moderate astigmatism.
The technology used in all laser LASIK procedures can be used to assist in surgeries for patients in need of cornea transplants. The technology which enables infrared lasers to create precise cuts in the corneas of LASIK patients can also be used in surgeries to assist patients in need of a cornea transplant to reduce the healing time required by the patients.
Approximately 105,000 cornea transplants take place each year. Prior to the use of infrared lasers in these procedures, a trephine was used to make the necessary cuts in the cornea of the donor and the eye of the recipient. This technique required longer recovery times and the potential for astigmatism after the procedure if the eye did not heal properly. However, the use of lasers to create precise incisions on the donor's cornea, as well as the recipient's eye enables the donated cornea to match more precisely to the recipient's eye. As a result, the patient heals more quickly and with fewer complications.
The significant difference between blade free LASIK and traditional LASIK is the way in which the corneal flap is cut. However, it is also this difference which makes blade free LASIK a superior procedure capable of producing more successful results with fewer possibilities for complications. The technological advancements behind this blade free procedure make it possible for surgeons to create a more precise corneal flap which is tailored to the patient's eye. This results in a decreased risk in the potential for complications which result from the corneal flap not healing correctly.
Although complications in LASIK surgery are relatively rare, the complications which do arise are often a result of the use of a microkeratome blade to cut the corneal flap. If this cut is not made precisely, the flap may not adhere to the eye properly and cause complications, such as double vision or distorted vision which require additional procedures to correct the problems. However, blade free LASIK surgery uses an infrared laser controlled by a computer to create the flap in the cornea. This flap is created by an infrared laser passing through the eye and creating a series of microscopic bubbles just below the corneal surface at a precise location and depth. Once these bubbles are created, the surgeon can lift the flap and proceed with the surgery.
Blade-free LASIK was made possible by the Intralase Corp., which markets the laser used to create the precision corneal flap.
The laser emits pulses as short as one-quadrillionth of a second (femtosecond), using an infrared beam of light to separate tissues, simply dividing them without heat or impact. The pulses create microscopic bubbles within the corneal tissue, which then constitute the boundaries of the flap.
The laser works in concert with a special computer which calculates the precise cut needed to allow the excimer laser (the one that creates the actual vision correction) to do its work within the patient's cornea.
Intralase has improved LASIK with several different changes.
Intralase has replaced the hand held blade used in LASIK to make the corneal flap, with a computer-guided laser. The result is a safer procedure with more accuracy. With LASIK you had more of a chance of having a flap complication than with Intralase. These flap complications are now virtually eliminated with the use of the Intralase laser.
Intralase has improved LASIK by allowing people who may not have been candidates for LASIK to perhaps receive Intralase. People with thin corneas now may have the opportunity to have Intralase, when before LASIK wasn't an option.
Due to the extra safety and accuracy of the Intralase procedure, you will pay a bit more. However, the price may be worth it when you think of how improved the safety and accuracy of Intralase is.
Please discuss with your doctor whether or not you are a candidate for this new and improved laser eye surgery.
What makes Intralase's flap process different and better when compared to other flap procedures, such as traditional LASIK?
The flap created with the Intralase laser follows the curve of the cornea and results in a flap that has easily manageable vertical edges. With traditional LASIK flaps, a cut is made with a microkeratome blade that results in thinner edges that may tear easier. The Intralase flap reduces the chance of the flap being pushed up thus resulting in cells growing under it that may then create vision disturbances.
When it comes to Intralase, the difference really is in the flap!
What is a person's risk of having complications when choosing blade free LASIK surgery?
According to multiple studies that have been completed where the Intralase (blade free LASIK) laser was compared to the microkeratome laser used in surgeries such as LASIK, the Intralase was found to significantly reduce your risk of having complications.
The Intralase laser provides more stability and greater flap precision when compared to LASIK. LASIK's greatest complication is flap problems after surgery. Because Intralase is so precise, this risk is significantly reduced.