Wavefront Guided Laser Eye Surgery

Custom, or Wavefront guided laser eye surgery, is the latest development in the evolution of LASIK surgical techniques. Customized vision procedures have become a very popular form of vision correction and are a viable option for more and more of the population. Glasses and contact lenses are still commonly used and probably always will be. But advances in surgical procedures and products have taken significant strides over the past decade. However, Wavefront guided laser eye surgery is not the cure-all of vision problems. The procedure will not produce super vision, but it is capable of producing better than 20/20 vision when reading as determined by reading a typical examination chart. Although laser procedures have grown in popularity since about 1995, there are several risks involved and some people are excluded from using them for a variety of reasons. Today, there are about a dozen possible surgical procedures used to correct vision problems, but two are more commonly used than the others: Photorefractive Keratotomy (RK) and Laser-Assisted in situ Keratomileusis (LASIK).

Essentially, Wavefront guided laser eye surgery customizes the surgical procedure to an individual's unique vision requirements. Today, LASIK is more commonly performed than Photorefractive Keratotomy. According to online sources, the two techniques basically produce the same results. However, because of the differences in how the outcome is produced LASIK has more possible risks of complications. Both of the procedures involve reshaping the surface of eye to produce clearer vision. Photorefractive Keratectomy uses light energy to remove tissue directly from the surface of the cornea. This procedure alters the curvature of the cornea. In 1995 the Food and Drug Administration approved the use of PRK in the United States. But PRK has been upstaged by LASIK. However, PRK does have some advantages. Since nerves appear to regenerate faster with PRK, there is less risk of some complications developing. The main differences between the two procedures are that Keratectomy is a surface procedure and LASIK involves creating a small thin surgical flap.

During the Wavefront guided laser eye surgery procedure, the surgeon lifts the surface flap and then uses light energy to reshape the surface of the cornea. Once this is done, the flap is replaced. Unfortunately, there are two possible risks with creating a flap. First, the flap could be damaged or detach completely. Second, improper healing of the flap could distort the cornea. However, there are other complications that could arise during and after the medical procedure. Apparently, LASIK's main advantage is that there is little discomfort following the procedure. Also, unlike PRK, the patient's vision clears within hours instead of days. During the past decade, several forms of LASIK have been developed: LASEK, EPI-LASIK, Blade-free LASIK and Wavefront LASIK. Generally, the main difference in the techniques is how the flap is created. Many experts consider Wavefront guided laser eye surgery to be the most accurate vision correction system to date. Traditional LASIK procedures use measurements derived from information gathered from a typical eye examination designed to fit a person for glasses or contacts. But Wavefront assisted procedures are based on distortion or visual errors found in the eye itself.

Essentially, the Wavefront guided laser eye surgery system uses a beam of light that creates a three-dimensional map of how the eye processes images. This map then guides a beam of light energy in re-shaping the cornea. Initially, a surgeon will transmit a light ray into the eye. The light reflects off of the retina and comes back out through the pupil. On the way back out from the retina, the ray of light records any irregularities. A unique map is what makes custom laser eye surgery specific to each individual. According to one website, the irregularities are called lower or higher-order aberrations. According to the same Wavefront guided laser eye surgery website, vision is based not only on how much a person sees but also on how well a person sees. How much a person can see is affected by lower-order aberrations. These vision errors are such defects as astigmatism and myopia. Higher-order aberrations reduce how well a person can see. These types of disorders are such problems as decreased contrast sensitivity, night vision, glare, and halos. Obviously, light helps people see more clearly. Christians know that light is also an important theme found throughout the Bible. Light is life and is the foundation of one of the single most significant verses in the New Testament: "Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. (John 8: 12)

Traditional LASIK procedures correct lower-order aberrations. But Wavefront guided laser eye surgery can correct both lower and higher aberrations. Although laser eye surgery procedures have grown in popularity, they are not right for everybody. Consult with a surgeon to find out which procedure, if any, is the best one. In most circumstances, people under the age of 18 are rarely considered for LASIK procedures because their eyes are still changing. Certain health conditions and diseases could preclude a person from some types of vision correction procedures, too. Most LASIK procedures are performed quickly and without pain. During the procedure, the eye is anesthetized using drops and there is often no discomfort during the procedure, which normally takes 15 to 45 seconds to perform. Apparently, few side effects are experienced following LASIK. Sources indicate that the most common side effects are a halo and glare around lights. However, most people usually return to normal activities within a few days of undergoing a new laser procedure.

Wavefront Laser Vision Correction

Pursuing wavefront laser vision correction is a popular option for those who want to correct their myopia, hyperopia, and astigmatism. The idea of vision correction has been around since the early 1500's. Leonardo da Vinci toyed with the concept, but never pursued it. In 1636, Rene Descartes actually followed through on an offshoot of da Vinci's brainstorm. He filled a glass tube with liquid and placed it directly on the cornea. The other end of the tube protruded from the eye. It was kind of cumbersome and impracticable. Then, both Thomas Young and John Herschel did some pretty phenomenal experiments that advanced vision correction using eye accessories. Though promising, eye surgery was taking a parallel track. Ignacio Barraquer of Bogota, Colombia refined the first proficient refractive surgery. This technique called keratomileusis was the forerunner to wavefront laser vision correction. This is what later developed into Laser Assisted In-Situ Keratomileusis or LASIK.

Refractive eye surgery is the foundational procedure used to remodel the cornea. This type of procedure includes a variety of surgical methods. Wavefront LASIK or wavefront-guided LASIK is a procedure that uses a set of 3-dimensional measurements to guide the laser. Wavefront technology is revolutionary in that the potential is far greater than that of regular Lasik procedures. Not only can a person improve how much they are able to see, but how well they are able to see it. Contrast is a real issue with sight; as is fine detail. The wavefront laser vision correction allows the complex vision issues (or higher order aberrations) to be treated along with the basic sight problems. This technology helps to reduce some of the common risks of LASIK complications. Glare, night vision complications, and halos around objects have been experienced by people who have had LASIK vision correction. Since as early as 1898, there has been a passionate pursuit of refractive surgery in order to decrease or eliminate dependency on glasses or contact lenses. Lendeer Jans Lans, a Dutch professor of Ophthalmology, published an abstract that presented the basic principles of radial keratotomy. Excimer lasers, in specific, are used to execute the cornea reshaping process.

Though somewhat different from LASIK, wavefront laser vision correction surgery starts with a comprehensive diagram of the path that light takes as it moves through the person's eye. This complex procedure is so sensitive that even the most infinitesimal aberration is detected. Interesting to note is that, although this procedure is technically more accurate than LASIK, the skill of the technician in acquiring accurate data is actually more important than the wavefront laser vision correction procedure itself. When this procedure is properly executed, fewer retreatments are necessary and the visual quality of the patient is vastly improved. Constant advancements have been made in both technique and technology. Consequently, corrections of aberrations that cause myopia, hyperopia, and astigmatism are more accurate than ever. "Forasmuch as thou sawest that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it brake in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold; the great God hath made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter : and the dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure." (Daniel 2:45)

Heredity plays a part in whether a person has myopia, hyperopia, and astigmatism. Oftentimes these conditions develop in children; myopia or nearsightedness, in particular. As a child grows and develops, the condition usually becomes more prominent. Myopic creep, as it's called, plagues nearly 2% of the population. This condition, however, is not a disease. Hyperopia, the opposite of myopia, is also called farsightedness. Hyperopia affects nearly 25% of the population. This is also not a disease. Eyeballs are like every other body part. Although generally, they are supposed to be round like a ball, aberrations (or anomalies), even tiny one's, make a difference in how a person sees and perceives what they see. The whole idea of having wavefront laser vision correction surgery as an option is to "normalize" the sight of the person. The stationary world does not change. Therefore, it would make sense that each person be able to see and perceive it in the same way. When the visual quality that a person experiences is off kilter, vision correction is available to make the adjustments necessary to bring things into alignment.

The costs of obtaining wavefront laser vision correction is relatively inexpensive when the true value of sight is taken into consideration. The technology literally allows the eye surgeon to take extreme measurements of the corneal aberration, then operate with an exactness that changes the shape of the cornea. There is no price a person can really put on sight. An estimated 85% of what a person's brain processes comes from what they see. Therefore, if the bill for the procedure seems exhorbitant; one must take into consideration what is at stake. The use of wavefront laser vision correction surgery, has helped eye surgeons better measure and actually guide the laser so that the reshaping process is much more accurate. Visual quality is more greatly advanced. Improvements have been achieved in securing 20/20 vision which includes: 1) reducing the chance of glare and night vision issues, 2) improving the probability of keeping visual quality, 3) keeping contrast sensitivity stable, and 4) reducing the visual degradation that is often experienced post Lasik procedure. A person's decision to get this surgery should be taken very seriously in that the one pair of eyes allocated to each person cannot usually be replaced.

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