In the LASIK procedure (Laser Assisted in Situ Keratomileusis), excimer laser energy is applied to the underlying layers of the cornea after an instrument called a microkeratome has created a microscopically hinged flap. This flap averages 130 microns in thickness and is reflected away from the bed of cornea prior to application of the laser treatment. Contained in this flap are the sensitive nerve endings of the superficial cornea, which are protected from damage when flap is lifted. The net effect of this step in LASIK surgery is that laser application does not damage this sensitive neuro-layer of the cornea. Because of this, the process is painless and the level of inflammatory reaction to surgery is minimal. The low level of inflammatory activity after LASIK allows for the rapid return of excellent acuity accompanied by a low level of mild discomfort
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.
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. With this technology, 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 precisely calculate laser vision corrections designed to correct focusing problems. We use this information to customize LASIK and other excimer laser treatment to each patient.