Remember our article discussion about what sort of lasers are used in a LASIK procedure? We explained to you what the excimer laser is, right? We also mentioned a few times the YAG laser and the Argon laser. In our recent acquisition of knowledge about LASIK, we’ve also encountered a new type. Here we tell you more about this.
The Femtosecond laser is an infrared laser with a wavelength of 1053nm. When used in LASIK, it directs laser energy precisely to create a thin, hinged flap, which then is lifted temporarily from the eye’s surface or cornea. The first ophthalmic femtosecond laser system was designed by Dr Juhsaz in collaboration with Dr Kurtz at the University of Michigan in the early 1990s. However, the first FDA approved femtosecond laser for bladeless LASIK in the United States was the IntraLase laser in 2001. IntraLase Inc. later introduced several new models of this laser with advanced features.
More than 55% of all LASIK procedures in 2009 were performed with this laser. The femtosecond laser offers several advantages over the conventional microkeratomes:
- Reduced incidence of flap complications like buttonholes, free caps, irregular cuts etc
- Greater surgeon choice and control over flap diameter and thickness, side cut angle, hinge position and length
- Increased precision with improved flap safety and better thickness predictability
- Capability of cutting thinner flaps to accommodate thin corneas and high refractive errors
- Absence of moving parts
How It Works
How does the LASIK surgeon manipulate the femtosecond laser? He or she uses a computer software to guide the laser beam, which applies a series of tiny bubbles within the central layer of the cornea.The surgeon, with a pre-determined depth and diameter in mind, then creates a corneal flap . A small section of tissue at one edge of the flap is then left uncut. This forms a hinge that allows the surgeon to fold back the flap to access the cornea and subsequently reshape it for vision correction.
The Femtosecond Laser Today
Currently many different femtosecond laser systems are available commercially. Using the femtosecond laser in combination with other approved laser for bladeless LASIK is possible too. Ask your LASIK surgeon what laser he or she will be using in your procedure. Do inquire about your options too. Although the femtosecond is an efficient system, another laser type might be more suitable for you.