The cornea and lens combine to focus visual images on the back of the eye. When the overall shape of the eye is incorrect or when the curvature of the cornea is incorrect, the visual images are not in focus. The cornea accounts for approximately 2/3rds of the focusing power of the eye. LASIK began its origins over thirty years ago and was originally developed to treat patients who had very poor vision due to corneal disease.
LASIK (LASER ASSISTED IN SITU KERATOMILEUSIS)
LASIK uses an excimer laser to reshape the cornea. This reshaping corrects refractive errors such as nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism.
In standard LASIK, a cutting instrument called a microkeratome creates a paper-thin flap of corneal tissue (after the eye is numbed). After the surgeon gently folds back this flap, the excimer laser reshapes the rest of the cornea for improved vision. Then the surgeon returns the flap to its original place. The patient does not need stitches.
Since most nerves are in the unaltered flap, pain and swelling are minimal. Patients can resume normal activities within hours of the procedure.
LASIK is even more accurate using new computer technology called wavefront technology (or wavefront-guided LASIK). Wavefront technology is the science that measures the way that light passes through the eye. Computers perform high-tech analysis of the optical characteristics of a person's eye. This measurement of a person's optical system allows doctors to correct focusing problems. We use this information to customize LASIK and other excimer laser treatment to each patient.
Traditional LASIK uses a surgical blade to make the corneal flap. Now, with the IntraLase femtosecond laser, flap creation has reached a new level of precision. Instead of a blade, IntraLase creates a LASIK flap using very short pulses of infrared light energy. The pulses can be aligned at any depth or direction, letting the surgeon make a custom flap for each patient.
Compared to a flap made with a blade, the laser-created flap is more uniform in thickness, smoother and less likely to move out of place. It also gives more predictable results.