Wavefront technology is what makes custom Lasik the incredible improvement in eye surgery.
Astronomers have used wavefront technology for decades to overcome distortions in the light waves to focus their telescopes clearly. Their success led manufacturers to explore its use in eye surgery. The FDA approved the first custom wavefront laser in 1995.
Wavefront improved the conventional Lasik in two ways. It could be used to measure the diagnostic data and to guide the laser during treatment. It was a huge improvement over existing laser eye surgery procedures because it could measure degrees of error that no earlier method could.
Wavefront by Any Other Name
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You might know custom Lasik by names like Custom Vue Lasik or Wavefront Lasik. Your eye surgeon might refer to it by the name used by the manufacturer of the equipment he uses. Whatever it’s called, wavefront adds a level of precision to
laser eye surgery
that no other technique can match.
Uses In Laser Eye Surgery
Custom Lasik is useful for any laser eye surgery, such as
Lasek as well. Wavefront technology uses the laser to measure the amount of “refractive error” in each eye.
The data is computerized so it can be used for both diagnosis and treatment. During treatment this data is used to guide the excimer laser in shaping each cornea to correct the refractive error or aberration.
Wavefront is especially valuable for diagnosing the amount of refractive error.
It calculates data that gives more detail than other diagnostic methods can give. Many professionals believe that using wavefront technology for diagnostics is an absolute must.
They are not as convinced that custom Lasik should be used for every laser eye surgery. But, they do agree that wavefront diagnostics are essential for mapping any laser treatment.
And there is good reason for this. The data gives the eye surgeon the most accurate information about the optimum shape for each cornea.
Wavefront data is more accurate than any other method of calculating diagnostic data. Wavefront is able to measure
higher order aberrations (HOA)
that other methods cannot. And it can provide data to make three important determinations that other methods cannot do.
First, it is the only test that can determine whether vision would be made worse by any refractive surgery. Knowing this, your surgeon can recommend another safe procedure that will not damage your vision.
If laser surgery is indicated, then it can determine whether wavefront-guided ablation or conventional ablation would be better.
Laser Eye Surgery Using Wavefront
With wavefront custom Lasik, like any laser eye surgery, laser ablation permanently removes corneal tissue. The remaining tissue is newly shaped to give you the clearest vision.
Wavefront data gives a far more detailed mapping system to guide the laser during ablation. So, even when conventional ablation is used, using wavefront data to map the ablation is the most detailed and accurate
There are only a few drawbacks specific to wavefront, but they should be considered carefully. Custom Lasik requires more corneal tissue because wavefront destroys 30-40% more tissue than conventional ablation.
Because wavefront can’t “under correct” it can’t be used for monovision correction. In monovision correction the non-dominant eye is slightly under corrected, so this eye would have to be treated by conventional ablation.
Wavefront can also increase, or worsen HOA, but to a lesser degree than conventional laser eye surgery.
are considered low order aberrations (LOA).
It’s important to note that wavefront-guided ablation tends to increase HOA with all existing lasers, although some brands of excimer lasers produce less increase than others.
The FDA has not approved the use of any wavefront guided laser product or procedure for treating HOA. In fact, any refractive surgery might elevate HOA, and is advised against, if you have HOA.
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