The IntraLase™ FS laser offers a less invasive, more precise alternative to the traditional LASIK procedure, which eliminates the use of a microkeratome blade for the creation of a flap in the cornea. This procedure uses a computer-controlled laser to create a flap that is thinner and more accurate for the individual patient. The IntraLase FS laser has been used to treat over 1 million patients for laser vision correction, and offers superior results with increased patient comfort.
As the LASIK procedure continues to improve, the IntraLase™ FS laser is at the forefront of new technology. This device creates a thin, uniform flap with precise sizing and location to specifically meet the visual needs of the patient. The IntraLase™ FS laser also offers the surgeon more control during the procedure as it delivers consistent, effective results.
Although the LASIK procedure has been performed for years with minimal risk of complications; most complications that did occur were a result of the microkeratome blade. The IntraLase™ FS laser eliminates these risks and is considered to be up to 100 times more accurate in creating the flap than the traditional blade approach.
What is the IntraLase FS method for bladeless LASIK?
Unlike the microkeratome blade, which cuts across the cornea to create the flap, our IntraLase® FS laser doesn’t cross the cornea. It never touches the outer cornea but creates the flap using an “inside-out” process, which virtually eliminates the possibility of severe complications.
The IntraLase® FS laser uses a beam of infrared light energy to create the flap from below the surface of the cornea. The laser beam is focused to a precise point within the stroma (central layer of the cornea), where a string of tiny 2- to 3-micron bubbles is formed.
Thousands of these microscopic bubbles are precisely positioned to define the flap’s dimensions and distinct beveled edge, as well as the location of the flap hinge. Bubbles are then stacked along the edge of the flap up to the corneal surface to complete the flap. From start to finish, this only takes about 30 seconds.
Dr. Maehara then lifts the flap to allow for treatment by the excimer laser. When this laser completes its work of reshaping the cornea, the flap is accurately repositioned, thanks to the beveled edge.
This ends the procedure.
Is the IntraLase FS method safe?
Bladeless LASIK is among the safest surgical procedures performed. Both traditional and bladeless methods are safe, but by using the IntraLase® laser Dr. Maehara is able to avoid most of the problems that can potentially occur with the corneal flap due to the handheld microkeratome (they are still very rare, as well).
In studies, patients who agreed to have one eye flap created using a traditional microkeratome blade and the other using the IntraLase® FS laser preferred the post-operative vision of their IntraLase-treated eye 3-to-1 over the blade-treated eye.
IntraLase® FS was also shown to create fewer high- and low-order aberrations, which can be associated with night glare and halos. Other studies also showed less occurrence of dry eye with IntraLase® procedures versus traditional blade surgery. IntraLase® patients required fewer enhancement procedures following LASIK. The precise IntraLase® flap significantly reduces the incidence of post-operative induced astigmatism as compared with microkeratome-created flaps.
What are the advantages of IntraLase bladeless LASIK procedures?
- Improved safety — At Maehara, the IntraLase® FS eliminates the most severe microkeratome-related complications, including invasive corneal incisions and button-hole flaps.
- Better vision — In research, patients have been shown to achieve statistically better vision when IntraLase® is used in the LASIK procedure. In comparison with blade LASIK, more patients achieved 20/20 vision and those with a preference preferred the post-operative vision of their IntraLase treated eye 3 to 1.
- Highest degree of precision — Micron-level precision creates significantly more predictable and accurate flap dimensions, including, most critically, reproducible flap thickness, within +/- 40 microns. This increased precision preserves valuable corneal tissue and improves the predictability of the LASIK treatment.
- Fewer subsequent adjustments — The number of LASIK enhancements or retreatments is significantly lower for laser-created corneal flaps. This keeps the patient from dealing with the inconvenience and cost of additional procedures.
- Reduced dry eye symptoms — Research also shows a significant reduction in dry eye symptoms when the IntraLase® FS is used, the largest study showing patient dry eye symptoms being reduced by 72 percent. It’s thought this is due to the uniform and thinner flap created by the IntraLase® laser creating less disruption of nerves in the cornea.
- Individualized flaps — The laser can be tailored to the individual patient’s needs, allowing Dr. Maehara to individualize all steps in the LASIK procedure: custom diagnosis with Wavefront; personalized flap creation with IntraLase®; and custom laser treatment with custom ablation.
What will my recovery after bladeless LASIK be like?
Immediately after your bladeless LASIK procedure with Dr. Maehara you’ll be taken to an exam room to relax. Your vision will be very fuzzy at this time, but this is normal. Dr. Maehara will examine the flaps created by the IntraLase® laser to ensure they are in the proper position. We will give you a post-operative kit containing eye drops and a protective shield, and you’ll have someone drive you home.
You’ll need to take it easy. No reading or computer work; no exercise or strenuous exertion. A nap is the best idea. You don’t want to take a shower or bath, and you should not get water or soap in your eyes. Your clear shield needs to be taped over your eyes for sleeping.
The next day, you’ll return to see Dr. Maehara. You’ll have two follow up appointments that first week after your LASIK procedure. After just one day, your vision will be dramatically improved. This first appointment is usually very quick, and patients can typically drive themselves without needing glasses or contacts. That is thrilling for them after a lifetime of vision correction! After those initial checkups, Dr. Maehara sees all his LASIK patients three or four more times in that first year. If fine tuning is necessary, it is done after at least three or four months have passed.
Most patients can return to work in as little as 24 hours after their IntraLase® FS LASIK procedure.
What are the risks and side effects with LASIK?
Complications such as vision loss are very rare with LASIK, but there are certain side effects that are somewhat common, including dry eye and temporary vision issues. As discussed above, our use of the IntraLase® FS laser at Maehara dramatically reduces the already slim chances of any of these complications.
These are the risks with any LASIK procedure:
- Dry eyes — LASIK surgery causes a temporary decrease in tear production. This can last for up to six months; eye drops can help manage this.
- Glare, halos, double vision — Your night vision could be affected after your surgery, with halos and glare showing around bright lights. Double vision can develop, as well. These usually last for a period from a few days to a few weeks.
- Undercorrection or overcorrection — If the laser removes too little or too much tissue, you may not have the correction you desire. This can be easily addressed with a second procedure for undercorrection.
- Astigmatism — If tissue removal is uneven, it can create astigmatism.
- Flap problems — The flap created to access the cornea can develop complications such as infection or unusual epithelium growth.
- Vision loss — In very rare cases, patients have experienced vision loss due to surgical complications.
Is bladeless LASIK painful?
Your entire procedure takes just 15-20 minutes, and patients don’t feel anything. There is a window of about 2-3 hours after your procedure when the numbing eye drops wear off that you may have some discomfort, but it is not acute pain.