Updated on 

May 6, 2022

Vision Center is funded by our readers. We may earn commissions if you purchase something via one of our links.

What Is IntraLase Laser Eye Surgery?

What is IntraLase LASIK?

Intralase LASIK or iLASIK is a blade-free vision correction surgery. This outpatient procedure is very safe due to its high accuracy and low risk of severe complications.

IntraLase LASIK is unlike traditional LASIK, which uses an oscillating metal razor blade to create a flap on the corneal surface. 

IntraLase makes LASIK better by eliminating the sharp blade (microkeratome). 

Instead, your doctor will use wavefront technology to map the eye and an IntraLase® laser to create the corneal flap.1 

Just like LASIK, iLASIK corrects the following visual problems: 

iLASIK is a quick procedure. Creating the corneal flap takes less than 30 seconds. However, it may take about 20 minutes to correct both eyes.

Thinking about LASIK? Start a conversation with an experienced Patient Counselor to find out if laser eye surgery is right for you. Learn More

How IntraLase Works (Procedure Steps)

Just like DNA, everyone's eyes are different. The iLASIK procedure is designed to customize your treatment based on your specific needs. 

Let's look at the steps involved in IntraLase LASIK:

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. 

It also controls the excimer laser, a device that uses laser beams to reshape your cornea.3

Step 2: Creating The Flap

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

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

The laser is capable of cutting the corneal flap into the right thickness, shape, and diameter. It also creates perfect hinge locations.4 

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 corneal treatment step and is similar to what is done in traditional LASIK procedure. In iLASIK this step is computer-driven. 

Using the data collected during the mapping stage, the wavefront system guides the excimer laser to reshape your cornea. 

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

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

IntraLase vs. Traditional LASIK Surgery

IntraLase LASIK is an improvement of traditional LASIK surgery. Although both types of LASIK are very safe, iLASIK is less invasive, has a faster healing time, and yields more accurate outcomes.

During traditional LASIK eye surgery, your ophthalmologist will create a corneal flap on your eye. This provides access to the cornea for reshaping.

Your doctor will use a microkeratome, a tiny, bladed device, to form this flap and an excimer laser to reshape the cornea. 

This procedure is safe, although the microkeratome may be slightly less precise than the IntraLase laser.

Unlike traditional LASIK, which uses a sharp blade to make an incision on the cornea, IntraLase LASIK is a blade-free procedure guided by wavefront technology.

Wavefront technology makes the flap creation process easy, accurate, and eliminates complications such as postoperative astigmatism.5

Such complications are more common with the LASIK hand held microkeratome blade. 

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. 

Higher-order aberrations can also have an impact on vision.

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

IntraLase LASIK can treat both lower and higher aberrations.

Those who undergo IntraLase LASIK require fewer enhancement procedures than those treated with traditional LASIK. 

Pros of IntraLase

  • Safer than LASIK
  • Quicker recovery time than traditional LASIK
  • Eliminates corneal flap with microkeratomes
  • 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 IntraLase

  • Risk of flap swelling
  • Few surgeons can perform this procedure
  • Risk of dry eyes (rare)
  • More costly than LASIK

Pros of traditional LASIK 

  • Quick and safe procedure
  • Immediate outcome (a clear vision after 24 hours)
  • No need for eyeglasses 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, wrinkling, etc.
  • Not everyone is eligible (18 years or older only)
  • Risk of dry eyes
  • Nighttime glares and halos
  • Requires post-op care to prevent complications

Success Rates

Most people who undergo LASIK or iLASIK procedures achieve a clear vision (20/20 or better)

Research on LASIK patients also shows a high level of satisfaction after surgery.8

iLASIK is considered superior to LASIK because it eliminates the complications caused by the blade.9 The flap creation process is also computer aided and highly accurate.

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

Most 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. 

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.

LASIK Surgeon Using Laser

Side Effects & Risks of IntraLase 

  • Increased sensitivity to light
  • Decreased visual clarity immediately after surgery
  • Gritty or burning sensation
  • Potential of eye infections
  • Transient light sensitivity syndrome (TLSS), rare
  • Vision loss or serious changes, rare
  • Flap healing problems
  • Bloodshot eyes

Complications

Complications are rare in iLASIK. However, noted issues include:

  • Infections
  • Wrinkled flap
  • Epithelial ingrowth

iLASIK complications can be treated using medication or repeated surgery. 

How Much Does IntraLase Cost? 

Prices for IntraLase LASIK do vary from state to state and region to region. The price may also vary based on the facility or type of surgeon you visit.  

However, it's worth noting that the cost of iLASIK is significantly higher than traditional LASIK. 

There are also fewer  eye doctors trained to perform IntraLase LASIK, driving the cost even higher.

On average, expect to pay anything between $2,000 and $5,000 for both eyes

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

Is IntraLase Right For You? 

If you want to correct your vision using a blade free laser technology, IntraLase LASIK is a good option. 

This revolutionary eye surgery minimizes the LASIK drawbacks and adverse complications.

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

Remember to discuss the following with your 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

Other alternatives to iLASIK include:

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

Surgeon performing LASIK Procedure
9 Cited Research Articles
  1.  Marshall J. “IntraLase: The Most Versatile Femtosecond Laser Choice,” Cataract & Refractive Surgery Today Europe, Apr. 2007
  2.  Bunya V. et al.,“Epithelial Basement Membrane Dystrophy,” American Academy of Ophthalmology 12 Jan. 2022
  3. AMO WaveScan WaveFront™ System,” Stanford Medicine
  4. Binder, P. “Flap dimensions created with the IntraLase FS laser,” National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), 30 Jan. 2004
  5. Morlet N. et al.,“Astigmatism and the analysis of its surgical correction,” British Journal of Ophthalmology, 2001
  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. Toda I. “Dry Eye After LASIK,” Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science, Nov. 2018
  8. 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
  9. Refractive Surgery (iLasik) Service,” University of Florida Health: Department of Ophthalmology
Melody Huang is an optometrist and freelance health writer. Through her writing, Dr. Huang enjoys educating patients on how to lead healthier and happier lives. She also has an interest in Eastern medicine practices and learning about integrative medicine. When she’s not working, Dr. Huang loves reviewing new skin care products, trying interesting food recipes, or hanging with her adopted cats.
Vincent Ayaga is a medical researcher and experienced content writer with a bachelor's degree in Medical Microbiology. His areas of special interest include disease investigation, prevention, and control strategies. Vincent's mission is to create awareness of visual problems and evidence-based solutions shaping the world of ophthalmology. He believes that ophthalmic education offered through research has a greater impact among knowledge seekers.
https://www.visioncenter.org/author/vince/
Author: Vince Ayaga  | UPDATED May 6, 2022
left pointing arrow icon
Medical reviewer: Dr. Melody Huang, O.D.
left pointing arrow icon
Dr. Melody Huang, O.D.
Vision Center Logo
The information provided on VisionCenter.org should not be used in place of actual information provided by a doctor or a specialist.

All about Vision Center

Other Links

linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram