LASER EYE SURGERY KEY ADVANCEMENTS
LASIK surgery was considered a seemingly miraculous procedure when it was popularized, circa 15 years ago. Even so, modern medicine continues to research and innovate, providing new and exciting advancements. These advancements are beneficial for LASIK patients because they allow the procedure to be done faster, more effectively, and more affordable. To give you an idea of how far laser eye surgery has come, we wanted to share some key advancements that have made it one of the most popular surgical procedures in the United States.
7 Key Advancements in Laser Eye Surgery
- The Big Picture. To begin our journey down LASIK Surgery Advancement Lane, consider this: in 1997, you visited a surgeon who wielded a very sharp scalpel to make the incision and correct corneal imperfections. S/he sent you home to recover for 6 weeks and then you went back for eye #2. Now, LASIK procedures take 15 minutes or less and the recovery time is a matter of hours.
- 20/20 Vision. The phrase “20/20 vision” is a common vernacular phrase. The term refers to the furthest distance a person with “normal” vision can stand and still see a line of letters on the vision chart; the larger the bottom number, the worse the vision. In the beginning, getting 20/20 vision results in the world of LASIK surgery was considered a pretty major success. Nowadays, things have progressed to the point where a visual acuity of 20/20 is more of the successful “norm” and technology’s goal is to increase that so 20/15 and 20/10 vision are the “new 20/20.”
- IntraLase. The advent of IntraLase has made things more like Laser² eye surgery. In the beginning, a small metal blade was used to cut into the surface of the eye to create the “flap” which surgeons use to access the cornea. Now, most LASIK procedures are done using the IntraLase, which uses a laser to cut a precise flap, as well as a laser to repair the corneal imperfections.
- Next Generation Lasers. The first generation lntraLase lasers used 15 kHz femtosecond lasers. These lasers took about 1 minute to create the flap necessary for the procedure. The second generation of IntraLase used 30 kHz femtosecond lasers, which took about 35 – 45 seconds per flap. Now the fourth generation machines are 60 kHz femtosecond lasers, which only take about 20 seconds for the same procedure. This improvement in time makes LASIK eye procedures shorter and shorter.
- Eye Tracking. If we were to tell you to stare at a dot on the wall, your eye would appear to be still. In fact, your eye muscles are still participating in involuntary moments. Eye tracking technology allows the laser to more accurately
follow the eye’s involuntary movements, which enhances the outcome of LASIK eye procedures.
- Wavefront Custom LASIK. New LASIK surgery procedures, such as the use of “Wavefront” can get incredibly accurate pictures of the cornea by using light waves and mapping the surface the corneal surface as the waves bounce back. This procedure can detect incredibly small imperfections, allowing a LASIK surgeon to beeven more precise.
- Cost. All of the above advancements have drastically improved the cost of LASIK surgery. Fifteen years ago, you would have paid about $11,000 (including a 2.4% inflation adjustment). These days, you will pay about $2000 to $3000, depending on the treatment you require. That is an enormous improvement.
The world of LASIK surgery will never stop advancing, but if you are interested in laser eye surgery – there has never been a better time than the present. Recent advancements have made it more efficient, effective, and affordable than every before.