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IntraLase® or LASIK?

The big difference between IntraLase® and LASIK is in the corneal flap creation. Before any laser vision correction is done in either procedure, access must be somehow created for the laser to reach the cornea’s middle layer, the stroma. This is the reason for the corneal flap.
LASIK uses a blade called a microkeratome to cut the flap
IntraLase uses a second laser to make a flap without cutting any tissue

Vision correction is done on the stroma because it is stable. It does not continually replace itself with new cells like the top layer, the epithelium. However, that continual replacement is an advantage for flap healing. Creation of new cells promotes flap healing.

The LASIK Microkeratome

This oscillating blade has been used in LASIK since the beginning. It is extremely precise, but requires a certain minimum corneal thickness for safety. If your corneas are thinner than average, IntraLase would be a better option.

The microkeratome is also not reliable when you have very severe myopia. A severely myopic eye has a steep corneal curvature and even though a vacuum pressure temporarily flattens the cornea for flap creation, a very steep cornea cannot be flattened enough for safety. The flap could be cut too thick. Again, IntraLase would be a better choice.

However, for good LASIK candidates, the microkeratome is safe and effective. It cuts an even flap which is folded back out of the way so that the excimer laser can modify the corneal curvature directly on the stroma. Your vision improvement can be astounding and most people achieve 20/20 vision or close to it.

The IntraLase Laser

The laser used to create a flap is not the excimer laser used for treatment. It is a femtosecond laser with a much faster vibration. (A femtosecond is one millionth of a nanosecond and a nanosecond is one billionth of a second.)

The IntraLase laser can be set to penetrate at specific microscopic levels into the cornea. To create a customized flap, it is directed below the corneal surface and each pulse creates a tiny bubble. The laser scans back and forth across the designated treatment area, creating thousands of bubbles and thus loosening the tissue above them. Your eye surgeon can then lift this tissue as a hinged flap, fold it back, and proceed with your vision correction using the excimer laser.

For the many advantages to having IntraLase rather than LASIK, please see IntraLase® (All-Laser LASIK). For further advantage, you can choose to have a Wavefront diagnosis for either IntraLase or LASIK. The IntraLase flap brings far less risk of flap complications, and these are the main problems that tend to occur after LASIK.

Making the Choice

IntraLase costs about $300 more per eye than LASIK. That may initially deter you from choosing IntraLase. However, you must consider what you are receiving for the extra cost:

  • Fewer complications
  • Greater safety
  • Better chance for 20/20 vision

If you are not a good LASIK candidate, IntraLase is an excellent option. If you are a good LASIK candidate, IntraLase is still a good option. When you consult with your eye surgeon he can explain the ramifications of each choice and together you can determine which procedure would be best in your particular case.

Please contact us for a qualified ophthalmologist in your area.

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