Wavefront is a word you are almost certain to encounter if you are considering laser eye surgery and most clinics will offer it as a premium add-on to both Lasik and Lasek treatments. There are some clinics who will offer wavefront as their standard treatment but they will inevitably charge more.
Wavefront is generally considered to be the gold standard in laser eye surgery as it increases the likelihood of achieving 20:20 vision. Arguably its biggest advantage however is the fact that it significantly reduces the risk of night vision problems which is still one of the most likely complications following surgery.
With standard Lasik and Lasek the laser treats the surface of the eye (cornea) in a similar way to spectacles or contact lenses. This is considered a ‘one size fits all’ treatment as it does not allow for the unique imperfections on the surface of your eye. When you need glasses or contact lenses it is because your cornea does not exactly focus the light entering your eye onto the retina. If you are longsighted your cornea is not powerful enough to focus the light onto the retina. If you are short sighted your cornea is too powerful to focus the light onto the retina. Glasses, contact lenses and standard laser eye surgery aim to re-focus this light so that it falls perfectly onto the retina.
The only problem correcting your vision this way is that your cornea is not the exact same power right across its entire surface. Think of the cornea like the many ripples on a pond. From a distance it appears flat, but when you get up close there are lots of individual peaks and troughs. Glasses, contact lenses and standard laser eye surgery all take an average of these peaks and troughs and provide a standard one size fits all vision correction. Wavefront technology however is different, as it takes many precise measurements right across the surface of your eye compared with only one point of your eye in standard treatment. The machine used to measure these aberrations is called an Aberrometer and all laser eye surgery clinics will have one. There are many different manufacturers of Aberrometer (e.g.Technolas Perfect Vision Zywave) but they all pretty much do the same thing.
The Aberrometer measures your individual visual imperfections from the centre of your cornea to the outer edge of your pupil which takes into account the fact that your pupils enlarge at night. The resulting information from the Aberrometer is then used to generate your 'wavefront map' which effectively illustrates your eyes unique visual errors. This information is then used to calculate your personalised treatment profile ensuring that the laser is applied to perfectly eliminate all these imperfections. Think of wavefront technology as accurately measuring all of the different peaks and troughs on your cornea and then treating them accordingly.
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