Intralase is an example of bladeless Lasik and is considered the Gold standard in Lasik eye surgery. During bladeless Lasik, the flap is created using a laser (Femtosecond laser) as opposed to a microkeratome (surgical blade) during the standard Lasik procedure. Contrary to what most people believe, Intralase is in fact only one type of Bladeless Lasik and different clinics will use different systems. To gain a better understanding of Bladeless Lasik you should read the following guide: Intralase Lasik explained.
More and more clinics are using Intralase as their standard procedure owing to its many advantages over standard Lasik and you can read about these below:
Main Advantages of Intralase:
- Results: Intralase results in a slightly higher chance of achieving 20:20 vision when compared with standard Lasik. It is not just the quantity of vision (E.g. How far down the eye test chart you can read) but also the quality of vision that is improved. This improvement in the quality of your vision means you are less likely to have night vision problems such as glare, starbursts and haloes around lights.
- Laser enhancements: There is a lower chance of needing a laser re-enhancement (re-treatment) with Intralase compared with standard Lasik. A laser enhancement is likely to be required if your vision has regressed following your initial surgery. An example of regression would be if your eyes were -5.00 Dioptres before surgery and they were successfully corrected to zero prescription. Then over the next year or so your eyes slowly reverted back to -1.00 meaning your vision would be blurred again.
- Healing time: The healing time is even quicker with Intralase Lasik compared with standard Lasik meaning you can return to work and normal activities sooner following surgery. The reason the healing time is slightly quicker is because of the accuracy of the flap that is created.
- Visual Stability: You are likely to achieve maximum vision sooner after Intralase, meaning you will be able to drive and return to work earlier after your surgery.
- Safety: Intralase is generally considered to be a safer procedure as most of the complications with Lasik are associated with the creation of the flap. The more accurate creation of the flap with Intralase results in fewer Lasik specific complications.
- Dry eyes: One of the main advantages of Intralase is that there is a lower chance of dry eye-related problems post-surgery. The reason for this is that the flap created is not as deep as it is with standard Lasik meaning less corneal nerves are damaged. The following helpful guide explains this in more detail: How does laser eye surgery cause dry eyes?
- Short term flap complications: These complications are almost completely eradicated and long term safety is also improved due to less of the cornea being compromised. This is because the flap created with Intralase is thinner than that with standard Lasik.
- Serious complications: There are less serious complications with Intralase as flap risks are almost completely eliminated.
- Flap infection: The flap created is cleaner meaning the incidence of inflammation and infections are almost eliminated.
- Flap thickness: The flap is thinner which means more of the cornea is left intact, helping to maintain the maximum structural integrity of the eye. This is especially important for people who play contact sports.
- Lasek eye surgery is however the preferred treatment for those people who participate in contact sports, as no corneal flap is created. Read our Lasek specific guide for more information.
- Corneal thickness: Intralase creates a thinner flap meaning some people who are not suitable for standard Lasik may be suitable for this treatment. The typical flap thickness with standard Lasik is between 140 – 180 microns whereas with Intralase it is around 100 microns.
Explaining Corneal Thickness:
The average cornea is about 500-600 microns thick and in order to maintain corneal stability, it is essential to leave as much of the cornea intact as possible following laser eye surgery. It is generally agreed that to perform laser eye surgery safely the residual corneal thickness left after laser eye surgery should be a minimum of 300 microns.
If we take an example of a cornea which has a central corneal thickness of 550 microns and the surgeon plans to create a flap of 120 microns thick. This means that the remaining corneal thickness will be 430 microns (550 – 120) after the flap has been created. From this 430 micron bed, we then have to deduct the amount of corneal tissue that will be removed by the Excimer laser to correct your vision. The higher your prescription the greater the amount of corneal tissue will have to be removed. If 100 microns of corneal thickness has to be removed to correct your prescription then this would leave 330 microns of corneal thickness remaining. This is above the minimum residual thickness of 300 microns and therefore laser eye surgery would be safe to perform.
With standard Lasik however the flap created using a microkeratome is thicker, typically between 140-180 microns. In the example above standard Lasik would not be safe to perform which is why Intralase would be recommended.
As you can see from the above, Intralase Lasik can be offered to people with thinner corneas which is one of its main advantages. Even if your cornea is thick enough for standard Lasik, a flap created with the Intralase procedure is still recommended owing to the many advantages described above.