What sort of laser machine does LASIK involve? We are all (well, most of us) familiar with LASIK and how it works, right? It is a surgical procedure that reshapes the front part of the eye which enables the patient to see more clearly without glasses. Here we tell you more about the element that makes this all possible – the laser machine itself.
Laser in situ keratomileusis (LASIK) is a relatively new treatment option that can be used to correct refractive errors of the eye. It is most commonly performed to correct nearsightedness but can also be used to correct farsightedness and astigmatism too. The excimer laser is a machine that LASIK surgeons use in these procedures. It alters the refractive eye by removing tissue from the cornea through a process known as photoablative decomposition. This process uses ultraviolet energy which modifies the anterior corneal surface and enable light to be focused more onto the retina, thereby reducing dependence on glasses and contact lenses.
The excimer laser we just mentioned, sometimes more correctly called an exciplex laser, is a form of ultraviolet laser which is commonly used in the production of microelectronic devices, semiconductor based integrated circuits or “chips” and micromachining. The use of this excimer laser in corneal refractive surgery has greatly increased the safety of the procedure as the refractive correction is achieved by removing as little as 10-20% of the total corneal thickness.
Many types of lasers are used in laser eye surgery today though: Argon lasers heat tissue and have been used for years to treat disorders such as diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma while YAG lasers break tissue bonds by creating a shock wave and are used following cataract surgery and to treat certain types of glaucoma. On the other hand, the excimer laser is preferred for corneal surgery as it involves using a gentle, cold-beam which leaves adjacent tissues intact and unharmed.