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.
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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
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.
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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 are rare in iLASIK. However, noted issues include:
- Wrinkled flap
- Epithelial ingrowth
iLASIK complications can be treated using medication or repeated surgery.
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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.
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:
- Implantable collamer lens (ICL) or Visian ICL
- Photorefractive keratectomy (PRK)
- Small incision lenticule extraction (SMILE)
- Intraocular lens implant (IOL)
- Refractive lens exchange surgery (RLE)
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