LASIK eye surgery
is a procedure used to correct common vision problems such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism. In traditional LASIK eye surgery, a microkeratome (blade) is used to cut the corneal flap. Recently, a new laser procedure using the femtosecond laser has been developed. As this method utilizes a laser instead of a metal blade to create the flap, it increases precision while reduces flap-related complications.
What is the Femtosecond Laser?
The femtosecond laser is a laser which emits ultrafast laser pulses in units of femtoseconds (one quadrillionth of a second). When this laser is used in place of a metal blade to cut the corneal flap, the cut it creates is more precise in both size and shape. It divides material at the molecular level without any transfer of heat or impact on the surrounding tissue.
Femtosecond LASIK Vision Correction Steps
Femtosecond LASIK vision correction involves the following two steps:
- The surgeon uses the femtosecond laser to separate the corneal layer, making the corneal hinged flap. The flap is then temporarily lifted to expose the underlying cornea, known as the stroma, in preparation for the excimer laser treatment in the next step.
- The excimer laser (a very precise, cool temperature laser) will be used to remove some of the underlying corneal tissue to make a new corneal curvature and correct refractive errors. The flap is then placed back in the primary position without suturing.
Suitable Candidates for Femtosecond LASIK Treatment
- People with nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism.
- People over 20 years of age having stable refraction for at least 1 year prior (change in refraction not exceeding 0.5 diopters).
- People without eye diseases involving the cornea or other parts of the eye that might affect vision, such as macular degeneration or extreme dry eyes.
- People without medical conditions that interfere with the body’s healing process, such as uncontrolled diabetes or SLE.
- People who wear glasses or contact lenses which interfere with their job functions, daily activities, or hobbies.
- Women who are not pregnant or breastfeeding.
- People at risk of an insufficient fixation of microkeratome, such as those with narrow palpebral fissures, as the femtosecond laser requires less space than a microkeratome, or those with corneas that are overly curvy or overly flat, as the curve of the cornea does not interfere with the use of the femtosecond laser.
- People who are afraid of traditional surgery, due to the noisy motorized device (microkeratome) used while cutting the corneal flap, and the momentary loss of vision (for about 20 seconds); the femtosecond laser is noiseless and does not cause patient discomfort.
Prior to undergoing the femtosecond LASIK procedure, a 3-hour eye examination is required. This examination includes the following:
- Refractive error measurement by computer
- Vision test
- Eye pressure test
- Refractive error measurement by an ophthalmologist
- Tear function analysis
- Wavefront aberration, using a wavefront analyser to test for any deviation of the light ray as it is reflected out of the eye
- Corneal topography and corneal thickness measurement
- Dilated retina exam by an ophthalmologist
Femtosecond LASIK Treatment Period
The femtosecond LASIK procedure lasts about 15 minutes per eye. After treatment, patients can return home the same day. No overnight hospital stay required.
Benefits of Femtosecond LASIK
The femtosecond LASIK increases safety in corneal surgery and offers patients a better quality of vision compared to the standard blade procedure, as the laser increases precision and creates a precisely shaped corneal flap.
- The laser reduces discrepancies, creates a more precise and uniform flap thickness, reduces flap-related complications such as incomplete or irregular flap cutting, and reduces corneal scratching.
- The laser creates a corneal flap with more defined and angled edges, allowing the flap to be put back in place precisely, and reduces the risk of flap complications and excessive glare during the night.
- Patients suffer less dry eye after surgery.
- The procedure takes only about 15 minutes per eye.
- Requires very little recovery time.
Side Effects of Femtosecond LASIK
Side effects after femtosecond LASIK are rare. Patients may experience some dry eye or excessive glare during the night, which will disappear within 3-6 months.
Post-operative Eye Care after Femtosecond LASIK
- Avoid rubbing the eyes during the first 2 weeks, as this may irritate the corneal flap.
- Wear protective eye shields or goggles while sleeping for 1 week, so as to prevent eye rubbing.
- Avoid getting water in the eyes for 1 week.
- Use eye drops as directed by the ophthalmologist.
- Avoid eye strain, such as from reading or using a computer.
- Regular follow-up visits to monitor the healing process for 6 months to 1 year.
Refractive Surgery Center
Bumrungrad International Clinic (BIC) Building, 18th floor
Bumrungrad International Hospital, Bangkok, Thailand
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