Laser Eye Treatment | Bladeless Lasik Eye Surgery

In quite a short span of time we have moved through PRK to Lasik eye surgery to the latest which is bladeless Lasik which is also known as femtosecond eye surgery. A femtosecond is a unit of time that is one millionth of a billionth of a second. We might expect the word to have Latin or Greek origins simply because these words usually do but in this case it has its origins in the Danish and Norwegian word femten meaning fifteen. In 1960 the International System of Units (SI) was agreed and prefixes such as tera and pico were adopted. In 1964 at the 12th Conférence Générale des Poids et Mesures the word femto was added to denote .000 000 000 000 001 or 10 to the power of 15.

Picture of a Klenz ad for mobile phone cleaning.

Maybe the phrase 'back in a femtosecond' or 'back in a femto' will catch on but at the moment in the world of eye surgery it denotes a type of laser. Instead of a microkeratomeblade a laser is used to create the corneal flap. The femtosecond laser deploys tiny and rapid pulses of laser light which pass through the top layers of your cornea and form a minute bubble at a particular depth and position within your eye that is determined by the eye surgeon and tailored to the dimensions and shape of your eye. The laser moves back and forth across your eye creating a uniform layer of bubbles just beneath your corneal surface for 15 to 30 seconds. The corneal flap is created by separating the tissue where the bubbles have formed and the corneal flap is folded back. Because the layer of bubbles is so precisely positioned it creates a smooth even surface after your flap is lifted. Then an excimer laser is used for the treatment of the eye as in Lasik procedure and hence it is often referred to as bladeless Lasik.

The major undesirable outcome of bladeless Lasik is that some people develop extreme sensitivity to light for a period of time and this may not happen till two to six weeks after eye surgery. The problem is referred to as transient light sensitivity syndrome and after treated with special drops the situation usually improves after a week. You can read about it in the the Journal of Cataract and Refractive Surgery. Apparently the possibility of it may be reduced when the raster and side cut energies are reduced on the laser.

 There is a study underway by the Mayo Clinic that compares the results of bladeless Lasik with that of the microkeratome and is also looking at the long term effects of eye surgery. You can read it at Science Daily. What the long term effects are for any of us undergoing this treatment is not something we dwell on very much partly because it is unknown and partly because we are not really encouraged to do so. For quite a few of us it is not that long ago since Michail Gorbachov,who unwittingly had a major influence on eye surgery, was tripping about on the world stage and eye surgery was then it its infancy.

If you would like to read more about the development of the femtosecond laser click here or click to read more on Eye Laser Surgery. There is another form of bladeless eye surgery which is called Lasek and you can read about it here.

© N.Kiernan August 2008

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