The IntraLase Method is a 100% blade-free technique used to perform the critical first step in the LASIK procedure: creating the corneal flap. The creation of the corneal flap prepares the eye for the second step of the LASIK procedure, where an excimer laser is used on the inner cornea to correct vision.
The IntraLase Method uses tiny, rapid pulses of laser light to create your corneal flap—instead of using a metal blade—during the first step of LASIK. Each pulse of light passes through the top layers of your cornea and forms a microscopic bubble at a specific depth and position within your eye that is determined by the doctor. The IntraLase® laser moves back and forth across your eye, creating a uniform layer of bubbles just beneath your corneal surface.
Just prior to applying laser vision correction, the doctor creates your corneal flap by gently separating the tissue where these bubbles have formed. The corneal flap is then folded back so the doctor can perform the second step of your LASIK treatment.
The microkeratome is a hand-held instrument, which contains a steel blade that moves back and forth and creates a cut as it travels across the cornea. A microkeratome is only capable of making a single, one-dimensional cut across the cornea. As it cuts, the blade oscillates back and forth, which can leave an irregular surface after the flap is lifted. This can affect the quality of your postoperative vision.
Because of the unique way in which the IntraLase Method creates a precisely positioned layer of bubbles just beneath the surface of your eye, it creates a smooth even surface after your flap is lifted. With the IntraLase Method, a blade never touches your eye.
These procedures differ from one another in the way they prepare the surface of the cornea for the second step of LASIK. Epi-LASIK uses an epikeratome—a blunt separator—to make a superficial flap. Similarly, photo-refractive keratectomy (PRK) is performed by gently scraping the surface layer of the cornea, which may lead to corneal scarring. Both the Epi-LASIK and PRK procedures can be painful and require more postoperative medication. In addition, healing times may be longer than with procedures performed with the IntraLase Method.
There are several benefits to using the IntraLase Method:
- Better vision. More patients in clinical trials achieved vision that was 20/20 or better when their LASIK procedure was performed with the IntraLase Method.(1) And patients report better quality of vision overall, particularly in terms of their ability to see well in low light such as at dusk or at night.
- Ability to tailor the procedure to your eye. The IntraLase Method gives your doctor the ability to tailor the dimensions of your corneal flap based on what’s best for your eye. Everything from the diameter of your flap to the angle of its edges can be precisely determined. This is important because everyone’s eyes are shaped a little differently. Having a corneal flap that’s individualized to the patient contributes to excellent postoperative outcomes. In addition, a corneal flap created with the IntraLase Method also “locks” back into position after the LASIK procedure is performed.
Prior to creating the flap, the doctor applies drops to numb the eye, and then applies a special ring and an instrument that gently flattens your cornea in preparation for the IntraLase Method. This part of the process is not painful—patients report feeling only slight pressure.
More than 600,000 procedures have been performed safely and effectively using the IntraLase Method.
The creation of the flap itself takes only about 15-30 seconds per eye. Including preparation time, the entire LASIK procedure takes about 10 minutes.
In a clinical survey of LASIK patients who had their corneal flaps created using a microkeratome in one eye and the IntraLase Method in the other, the vision in the IntraLase-treated eye was preferred 3-to-1 (among those who stated a preference).
If you are looking for a 100% blade-free LASIK experience that virtually eliminates almost all the most severe, sight-threatening complications, the answer is yes.