When researching LASIK, it is easy to get overwhelmed by the barrage of LASIK jargon getting tossed around. Bladeless, blade-free, Intralase, all laser LASIK? Are they the same thing? What’s the difference? Is one better than the other? It’s easy to get confused when everyone uses a different name. Here at New York Eye Specialists, we just refer to it as bladeless LASIK. So, what specifically is bladeless LASIK surgery?
The LASIK Basics
To understand the difference between bladeless and traditional LASIK, you must understand the basic steps of LASIK surgery.
The first step, and the one that makes the difference between bladeless and traditional LASIK, is the creation of the flap. To carry out LASIK surgery, your LASIK surgeon must first create a thin, circular flap on the surface of the cornea. Once created, this flap will be pulled back to allows for treatment of the inner cornea.
The second step is the actual reshaping of the cornea. This step is the same in both bladeless and traditional LASIK. Your surgeon will use an excimer laser to reshape the cornea, allowing for proper light refraction and clear vision. Once finished, the flap is smoothed back into place and your surgery is over!
Bladeless LASIK Surgery Explained
Bladeless and traditional LASIK are extremely similar but have one (obvious) big difference: one uses a blade and the other one does not.
Traditional LASIK uses a specialized blade called a microkeratome to create the flap on the surface of the cornea. Bladeless LASIK, instead of using the traditional microkeratome blade, uses a femtosecond laser to create a flap on the surface of the cornea.
A femtosecond laser is a highly specialized laser that emits ultrashort laser pulses. The femtosecond creates millions of tiny bubbles just under the surface of the cornea, which allows the first layer of the cornea to lift off of the eye unharmed. This allows your surgeon to create a uniform, customized corneal flaps without damaging the surface of the cornea.
Is Bladeless LASIK Better Than Traditional LASIK?
We can’t say one is better than the other, simply because both procedures are so successful and effective. However, bladeless LASIK is objectively better for some patients. Before bladeless LASIK, it was common to have to turn away patients with severe or complicated refractive errors. With bladeless LASIK, especially when coupled with custom Wavefront technology, allows surgeons to treat more complicated cases safely. While this doesn’t mean that LASIK is safe for everybody, bladeless LASIK has allowed us to provide clear vision to a broader scope of patients!
Complication rates do not differ much between traditional and bladeless LASIK, although some doctors would argue that traditional LASIK complications are typically worse than bladeless LASIK complications. Traditional LASIK is still widely used today and is regarded as safe and effective. But for many of our LASIK patients here in NYC, the customization and precision that come along with bladeless LASIK are enough to win them over. Plus, not many people like the idea of a blade near their eyes!
If you are interested in LASIK surgery and would like to go over your options here at New York Eye Specialists, contact our office in New York City to schedule your LASIK consultation!