If you wear glasses, you’ve no doubt heard of Laser Eye Surgery, and wondered if it’s right for you.
Technically, this procedure is known as LASIK, or Laser-Assisted In Situ Keratomileusis. The name of the procedure is made up of a mixture of English (laser-assisted), Latin (in situ, which means ‘in its place’) and a medical term that has its basis in Greek (kerat is Greek for cornea, and smileusis means ‘to carve’).
To put it very simply, the LASIK procedure involves an ophthalmologist using a laser to reshape the cornea to give you better vision. But this is a history of iLASIK eye surgery, not just LASIK eye surgery. So what does the ‘i’ in iLASIK denote exactly?
The ‘i’ in iLASIK stands for IntraLase Femtosecond Laser. This is an advanced, high-speed precision-controlled laser that is used to create the corneal flap in laser eye surgery with a greater degree of safety and precision than a traditional blade-based microkeratome.
That probably needs a little explaining too. So let’s go a little deeper into the history of laser eye surgery itself.
The notion that reshaping the cornea could help correct refractive errors and improve vision dates back (believe it or not) to the late 1800s, where a process called radial keratotomy involved making small incisions in the corneal surface, causing it to flatten and change the focus. Though it had moderately good success in treating myopia, results were not always predictable.
Fast forward to the late 1940s, where the Columbian ophthalmologist Dr José Ignacio Barraquer Moner developed the keratomileusis (cornea shaping) technique. He used a surgical instrument with an oscillating precision blade called a microkeratome to remove thin slices from the top level of the cornea and a cryolathe to reshape the middle layer. Once the cornea had been reshaped, the top layers that had been removed were reattached and left to heal.
In the 1950s, the technique was refined further. Using a microkeratome, the top layer was only partly detached, creating a small flap that could be hinged back during the procedure. The cornea was then reshaped, and the flap was then put back in place (in situ) where it fitted very neatly and healed very quickly.
In the 1980s, it was discovered that an ultraviolet excimer laser – a laser that had originally been developed in the 1970s for precision etching of microelectronic devices – could also be used in precision surgical procedures.
This led to the technique called photorefractive keratectomy (PRK) where, with the assistance of a laser, the ophthalmologist was able to sculpt and reshape the cornea with an incredibly high degree of accuracy. Instead of cutting a flap however, the procedure was performed on the top layer of the cornea. Though a successful procedure, the irritation to the top layer of the cornea meant the patient had a long and often uncomfortable healing time.
In the 1990s, the two techniques were combined, and LASIK was born. A microkeratome was used to create a thin corneal flap, and the cornea was then shaped using the computer-controlled excimer laser. This combined the precision benefits of the laser sculpting, and the fast healing of the cornea.
By 1999 the LASIK system enjoyed an incredibly high level of success and quickly became one of the most popular elective procedures, with very few complications. However the few complications that did occur were usually as a result of the manual cutting of the flap, using the surgical blade, or microkeratome.
Enter iLASIK – a bladeless, all-laser computer-controlled technique. With iLASIK, the corneal flap is created using a high speed Femtosecond Laser that helps eliminate the complications that can arise using the microkeratome. This is combined with sophisticated Customvue imaging software using advanced wavefront technology which precisely maps the contours and aberrations of each individual eye. This allows the surgeon to minutely control the laser during surgery (as opposed to a pre-programmed microkeratome) which ensures the highest degree of safety, accuracy and effectiveness.
iLASIK is a popular, safe and sophisticated procedure that has been used to improve the vision of over one million people worldwide. Need more convincing? Both NASA and the US Navy use iLASIK vision correction for their astronauts and top gun fighter pilots – a clear endorsement indeed!
And in the safe hands of Dr. Con Moshegov, Sydney’s leading iLasik specialist, iLasik has never been safer or more affordable.
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