Laser Vision Correction Gets Confusing
What is Laser Vision Correction?
Laser vision correction is a type of eye surgery that reshapes the cornea (the clear window of the front of the eye) using an Excimer laser. This is accomplished by ablation or subtraction of a microscopic amount of corneal tissue.
What is LASIK?
LASIK eye surgery is one type of laser vision correction that is performed by creation of a flap on the front of the cornea first, followed by the reshaping of the cornea under the flap with the Excimer laser, then reapplying the flap. LASIK is a process that has been refined through more than 15 years of controlled scientific study and improvement in safety and accuracy. What makes LASIK so popular is the surface of the flap stays smooth, so the visual recovery is very rapid.
Are there different types of LASIK?
In traditional LASIK, the flap is created by an instrument referred to as a microkeratome. This relies on an oscillating blade that cuts the flap. Modern LASIK uses all laser or bladeless LASIK. In all laser or bladeless LASIK, the flap is created by another laser, called the Femtosecond laser. What distinguishes the two techniques is the precision, accuracy, consistency, and safety superiority of the Femto laser over the blade.
What are the other types of laser vision correction?
PRK (Photorefractive Keratectomy) is a form of laser vision correction that does not involve a flap. ASA (Advanced Surface Ablation), LASEK, and Epi-LASIK, are all variations of PRK and are referred to as surface treatments where the flap is absent. Photorefractive keratectomy and variations are treatment alternatives to LASIK. In PRK, it is necessary to first remove the surface of the cornea (like removing the veneer of a table top), then reshaping or sculpting the cornea by using the Excimer laser. In PRK, there is a slower and more uncomfortable recovery because the surface has to heal, first going through a somewhat irregular stage, like a textured wall, then gradually becoming smooth, like a mirror again. The intact surface of the LASIK flap maintains the mirror-like smoothness of the cornea, permitting rapid visual recovery.
By using modern Femto flap technology, LASIK patients are more rapidly satisfied than PRK patients with their results. However, the final visual results of either procedure are typically identical.
What is the difference between traditional LASIK and Custom LASIK/WaveFront Guided?
Custom LASIK relies on a WaveFront-guided system to create a 3-D map of the vision. This testing is analogous to identifying a fingerprint of the vision that is used to create a treatment that typically exceeds the quality of vision achieved with glasses or contacts. The preop testing process is unique in obtaining data that utilizes a tracking system that actually identifies details on the iris, as landmarks, to permit perfect application of the Custom guided Excimer laser treatment onto the cornea.
The term iLASIK is a patented procedure that employs the Femto laser to make the flap and Custom guided Excimer laser treatment to perform the laser vision correction. This is the only LASIK procedure approved by the U.S.Military for Air Force Pilots and Naval Aviators; and NASA for Astronauts.