LASIK surgery has, for many years, relied on a microkeratome blade to be successful. This is a tiny blade that would cut a small incision into the surface of your eye. However, back in 1999 another way of forming this incision was invented. This new method uses a femtosecond laser to make the incision, as opposed to the microkeratome. IntraLase was the original system that received FDA approval to perform bladeless LASIK surgery in the United States.
How Bladeless LASIK Is Different
Bladeless LASIK uses a femtosecond laser to create the corneal flap instead of the small microkeratome.
Some Still Prefer The Blade
Other laser systems, such as Femtec or Visumax, have been created since then. Their big selling point is that they are bladeless, which implies that using a blade for the surgery is a riskier procedure, though that is not actually true. Actually, there are a number of surgeons who prefer using the blade. They believe that this is a much faster process and is overall more comfortable. It only takes about 3 seconds to use a blade to make the incision; while it can take the laser as much as 15 to 20 seconds, which leads to a longer recovery time.
Computer Controlled Incision
At the same time, having a computer-controlled laser create the incision is easier for the surgeon, and may help prevent an improperly formed incision. This is the most important part of the surgery, and if the surgeon does not need to worry about as much, perhaps it's worth the additional recovery time. There is much indecision in the market on this method.
Two Lasers At Work
There are two different kinds of lasers used during the procedure, the femtosecond and excimer. They work together to ensure the surgery is a success. The femtosecond laser is the one that actually makes the incision to create the flap. The excimer laser then is used to change how the cornea is shaped, which fixes the vision. The flap is then replaced and the incision is then left to heal.
Good Outcomes Overall
Regardless of the kind of LASIK procedure you receive, overall surgeons see few complications and a very high level of success. When using a blade, it is possible that the incision can be made uneven which can lead to a slightly incorrect cornea, which has been known to cause slight irregularities like astigmatism. Use of the laser has occasionally been known to cause sensitivity to bright lights for a period of time, a rainbow halo around certain kinds of lights, and actual inflammation of the incision itself.
If you have a thin cornea, lasers are typically recommended for LASIK surgery. However, blade technology has come to the point that it can be used as well. The cost can differ as well between the two types. Using a blade to perform LASIK can be around $1500 for each eye. If you use lasers instead, you can expect to pay about $500 more each.