iLASIK Laser Eye Surgery

7 sources cited
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What is iLASIK Surgery?

iLASIK eye surgery or IntraLase LASIK is a blade-free refractive vision correction surgery. It’s considered a LASIK improvement because it minimizes the complications of traditional LASIK surgery.1

A handheld microkeratome blade creates the corneal flap during traditional LASIK surgery. Although research shows that LASIK has relatively high success, corneal complications, including infections, are more common than with iLASIK.2

iLASIK eliminates the use of a sharp blade and instead uses laser energy to create a thin flap. It is ideal for patients with thinner corneas.3

A good iLASIK candidate should meet the following requirements:

  • 21 years or older
  • Nearsightedness (myopia), farsightedness (hyperopia), and/or astigmatism (imperfect eye curvature)
  • Don’t qualify for traditional LASIK surgery, which requires a thicker cornea
  • Good general health
  • No eye diseases such as cataracts
  • A stable vision prescription for at least one year
  • Not taking any medication that may interfere with healing
  • Desire to get rid of contact lenses or eyeglasses

iLASIK Procedure

Everyone’s eyes are different. ILASIK is designed to customize your treatment based on your specific visual needs. 

Let’s look at what to expect before, during, and after surgery:

Before Surgery

Your eye doctor will conduct initial evaluations to determine your fitness for the procedure. 

Stop wearing your contacts or eyeglasses several days or a few weeks before surgery to give your eyes time to recover. 

Your cornea is affected by the lenses and may need time to adjust back to its standard shape. 

This will help your doctor take accurate measurements of your cornea before treatment:

  • If you use soft contact lenses, stop wearing them two weeks before the first evaluation.
  • If you use toric soft lenses or rigid gas-permeable (RGP) lenses, stop wearing them at least three weeks before the evaluation.
  • If you use hard lenses, stop wearing them four weeks before the initial evaluation.

Also, avoid creams, lotions, perfumes, and other types of makeup days before your surgery to avoid the risk of infections.

Your eye doctor may need to evaluate you several times before the surgery to ensure you’re fit for the procedure. They will also discuss the benefits, risks, and expectations during and after the procedure.

During Surgery

On the day of the surgery, ensure you have reliable transportation home as you may not be able to drive after surgery. 

Also, have transport arrangements for your first follow-up visit, recommended 24 hours after surgery.

During the iLASIK procedure, you will sit in a reclining chair, and your doctor will clean your eye in preparation for surgery.

The procedure will involve the following steps:

Step 1: Mapping Your Vision

Your doctor will use wavefront technology to create a 3D map of your eyes. With wavefront mapping, your doctor will be able to identify your eye’s specific characteristics with high accuracy.

The wavefront system uses the collected information to customize your vision treatment. The system then controls the excimer laser, a device that uses laser beams to reshape your cornea.4

The laser can recognize and differentiate your right iris from your left. This minimizes the possibility of treating the wrong eye.

Step 2: Creating The Flap

After the custom diagnosis and mapping, the thin flap is created using an IntraLase® laser

The laser can predictably create hinge locations, flap thickness, and diameter.5

The IntraLase laser is an advanced femtosecond laser device that produces rapid pulses of laser light, creating a layer of microscopic bubbles under the cornea. 

The area with bubbles enables your surgeon to lift the thin corneal flap and fold it back to allow the next step of the procedure — wavefront guided vision correction.

Step 3: Wavefront-guided Laser Surgery

This is the treatment step and is similar to the LASIK procedure. However, iLASIK is computer-driven and uses more advanced software. 

The wavefront system guides the excimer laser to reshape your cornea according to your specific needs. 

After your laser treatment, the surgeon will reposition the corneal flap to allow healing.

After Surgery

After iLASIK surgery, you may feel a bit of discomfort in your eye. In some cases, you may experience mild pain. 

Your doctor may prescribe pain medications and lubricating eye drops to help relieve any discomfort and promote healing. 

Go easy on your eyes after surgery. Avoid activities that strain your eyes, including reading or watching television. Doctors recommend keeping your eyes closed as much as possible.

Doctors highly recommend the first follow-up visit 24 hours after the surgery. This will enable your surgeon to monitor the healing process closely and manage any side effects or complications before they worsen.

LASIK Surgeon Using Laser

Questions about LASIK? Call NVISION to speak with an experienced Patient Counselor who can answer all your questions and set up a free consultation. No commitment required.

Call 866-424-0296

Side Effects & Risks of iLASIK Surgery

Some side effects of iLASIK include:

  • Increases sensitivity to light
  • Blurred vision
  • Transient light sensitivity syndrome (TLSS), rare 
  • Decreased visual clarity immediately after surgery
  • Gritty or burning sensation
  • Infections
  • Transient light sensitivity syndrome (TLSS), rare
  • Vision loss or serious changes, rare
  • Flap healing problems
  • Bloodshot eyes

Complications of iLASIK include:

  • Bacterial, viral, or fungal infections
  • Wrinkled flap
  • Epithelial ingrowth

Difference Between iLASIK and Traditional LASIK

The main difference between iLASIK and LASIK is the tools used to perform surgery. 

LASIK involves a sharp metal blade while iLASIK is blade free.

During traditional LASIK eye surgery, your ophthalmologist will create a corneal flap using a tiny, bladed device called a microkeratome. 

They will then fold it back to allow access to the cornea for reshaping. Reshaping is done using an excimer laser.

However, iLASIK is a blade-free procedure that uses a computer-guided laser device known as an IntraLase® laser to create the corneal flap. 

This procedure is considered less invasive, more accurate, and safer than traditional LASIK.

How much you see is determined by your lower-order and higher-order aberrations.6 Lower-order aberrations are also known as refractive errors. These include nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. 

How well you see is affected by higher-order aberrations. These abnormalities may cause poor night vision, glares, and halos. 

However, higher-order abnormalities do not necessarily have as significant of an impact on vision.

Traditional LASIK can only correct lower-order aberrations effectively. Higher-order aberrations are challenging to treat with standard laser eye surgery. 

IntraLase LASIK can treat both lower and higher aberrations.

Pros of iLASIK

  • Safer than LASIK
  • Quicker recovery than traditional LASIK
  • Eliminates microkeratome use
  • Micron level accuracy/precision
  • Better visual outcomes (20/20 vision in most patients)
  • Customizable to every patient
  • Reduced need for LASIK enhancement
  • Low risk of dry eye syndrome

Cons of iLASIK

  • Risk of flap swelling
  • Few surgeons can perform this procedure
  • Risk of dry eyes, rare

Pros of Traditional LASIK 

  • Quick and safe procedure
  • Immediate outcome (a clear vision after 24 hours)
  • No need for glasses or contact lenses
  • Perfect 20/20 vision

Cons of Traditional LASIK

  • Risk of under-correction or overcorrection
  • May require LASIK enhancement if the desired outcomes are not achieved (repeat surgery)
  • May develop corneal flap complications such as infections
  • Not everyone is eligible (18 years or older only)
  • Risk of dry eyes
  • Nighttime glares and halos
  • Requires post-op care to prevent complications

Results & Success Rates

Most iLASIK and LASIK patients achieve a clear vision (20/20 or better). Research on LASIK patients also shows a high level of satisfaction after surgery.7

iLASIK is superior to traditional LASIK because it eliminates the complications caused by the blade. The iLASIK flap creation process is also highly accurate since it’s computer-guided.

iLASIK is considered to have a higher success rate and a low potential for flap complications.

Most iLASIK patients report an improvement in their ability to see during low lighting conditions.

You will need to follow aftercare guidelines and make follow-up visits with your surgeon to ensure successful healing after surgery. 

NVISION Eye Centers offer custom LASIK, affordable pricing plans, and a lifetime guarantee. Learn More

How Much Does iLASIK Cost?

The cost of iLASIK does vary from state to state. The price may also vary based on the facility or the specific surgeon that you visit. 

Regardless, the cost of iLASIK is significantly higher than traditional LASIK. In addition, the shortage of eye doctors trained to perform the iLASIK procedure also contributes to the cost. 

Expect to pay anything between $2,000 and $5,000 for both eyes

Is iLASIK Right For You? 

iLASIK is an advanced version of LASIK eye surgery that minimizes its complications.

If you want to correct your vision using blade-free laser technology, iLASIK is a good option for you. 

However, seek professional medical advice before committing to any vision treatment. Your doctor will examine you to determine if you qualify for the procedure.

Remember to discuss the following with your eye doctor:

  • Previous eye surgeries
  • Eye diseases such as cataracts may lead to complications.
  • Any medication you’re taking that may interfere with healing.
  • Any health issues such as diabetes which may affect the healing process.

Alternative Vision Correction Options

Surgeon performing LASIK Procedure

Still not sure about LASIK? Talk with an experienced Patient Counselor at NVISION to find out if it's right for you.

Call 866-424-0296

7 Cited Research Articles
  1. Moshirfar; M. et al.,“Laser In Situ Keratomileusis,” National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), 31, Jul. 2021
  2. Solomon K. et al., “LASIK world literature review: quality of life and patient satisfaction,” National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), 11 Apr. 2009
  3. Karpecki P.“End of the Line for EBMD,” Review of Optometry,  15 Apr. 2021
  4. AMO WaveScan WaveFront™ System,” Stanford Medicine
  5. Binder, P. “Flap dimensions created with the IntraLase FS laser,” National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), 30 Jan. 2004
  6. Kligman B. et al.,“Errors in Treatment of Lower Order Aberrations and Induction of Higher Order Aberrations in Laser Refractive Surgery,” National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), 01 Apr. 2017
  7. Bamashmus M. et al.,“Functional outcome and patient satisfaction after laser in situ keratomileusis for correction of myopia and myopic astigmatism,”  Middle East African Journal of Ophthalmology, 01 Jan 2015
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