Advantages of bladeless LASIK
Since its initiation, LASIK has undergone quite a few improvements on specific technologies. There have been a couple of variations using different techniques and tools. While conventional LASIK uses mechanical cutting tools, all-laser LASIK performs in a different way. Also named bladeless LASIK, all-laser LASIK takes use of two types of lasers: femtosecond laser and excimer laser. These two types of lasers can both reshape the cornea and improve focus ability.
The basics of bladeless LASIK
Within each of the two types of lasers used in bladeless LASIK, there are different brands. While IntraLase laser belongs to femtosecond laser, it can also be combined with other excimer lasers with FDA approval. Systems of bladeless LASIK include iLASIK, zLASIK, Femtec and VisuMax. During a bladeless LASIK, computer software is used to guide the femtosecond laser beam, creating a corneal flap with a precise depth.
Bladeless LASIK has fewer complications
Both blade and bladeless LASIK procedures may bring complications at low incidence. Complications associated with metal blade surgeries can be uneven flap edges, which cause abnormal corneal surfaces and vision defects. Blades may also create vision-threatening scars, which are rare in bladeless LASIK. Bladeless LASIK creates a flap using infrared laser energy. Femtosecond laser performs at very high speeds and divides tissues at a molecular level. Studies show that all-laser LASIK is much less likely to bring overall complications. Light sensitivity and rainbow effect are two possible complications associated with bladeless LASIK.
A higher price is charged
With lower risk of complications, bladeless LASIK costs about $300 more per eye. There has been long a debate between blade and bladeless. Many people still opt to choose blade LASIK, but bladeless LASIK is gaining popularity among surgeons. Some surveys reveal that there are already more than 30% of the surgeons who prefer bladeless to blade. Regardless of the higher price, it is actually more important to focus on the advantages of bladeless LASIK.
Patients with thin corneas can be good candidates
In the past, people with thin corneas are considered to be ineligible for LASIK procedure. However, this situation has been changed with the help of bladeless LASIK. Thinner flaps on corneal surfaces are able to create better effects and less possibility of complications. While most blade LASIKs cut flaps with thickness between 140 and 180 microns, femtosecond lasers can create flaps as thin as 100 microns. In this way, bladeless LASIK is capable of curing patients who have unusual thin corneas. Besides bladeless LASIK, PRK is also suitable for people with thin corneas.
The advantage in terms of flap creation
Bladeless LASIK has other advantages over blade LASIK. By creating more defined, angled edges, bladeless LASIK is much safer due to its ability of complication reduction. The flap created by femtosecond lasers is more accurate and adjustable. Rather than round flaps made by blade LASIK, bladeless LASIK creates oval flaps that are better to match the cornea. Bladeless LASIK also brings flap in different structure and architecture, which improve flap adherence and stability.
Some uncertain points of bladeless LASIK
As mentioned before, complications such as buttonholed or partially formed flaps can be avoided by bladeless LASIK. Bladeless flap also brings down the risk of developing eye infection or contamination during the procedure. During the short flap creation process, patients may experience temporary eye redness, which is harmless and inevitable. There are still different opinions about the application of bladeless LASIK following a first RK surgery. Similarly, bladeless LASIK has also been proved to sharpen vision after a refractive lens exchange. But more studies are needed. Some people may get eye irritation after a bladeless LASIK, but the risk of post-operative dry eye is lower than traditional LASIK.
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