WHAT EXACTLY IS “BLADE-FREE” LASIK?
Our doctors is proud to have been exclusively offering blade-free LASIK since 2005. Blade-free LASIK uses two lasers instead of one to perform your LASIK procedure. First the brand new Alcon WaveLight FS200 laser generates the small flap on the surface of your eye with tiny air bubbles. This pain-free procedure takes about 10 seconds per eye. It is a major advancement over the older metal microkeratome, still used at many low cost laser centers, and assures that the flap is perfect each and every time. The Alcon WaveLight EX500 Excimer laser is then used to contour the shape of your eye to improve your vision. This laser is also pain-free and usually takes less than a minute per eye. Together they provide an integrated laser system that is the fastest available in the U.S.
The lasers are not just faster, they are also more precise. The improvement in vision, especially for those with more extreme prescriptions, is even better than before. They also open up LASIK to many who may not have been candidates in the past because they can treat the widest range of prescriptions of any laser available.
Patients love the improved comfort and potential to see even better than they did with glasses or contacts before surgery. I appreciate the precise automation with the smallest laser spot size in the industry and fastest eye tracking system available: 20 times faster than natural eye movements! I’ve gained many more options for individualizing LASIK for a particular patient and you’ve gained an improved outlook on life.
When considering LASIK, the technology employed is a very important factor. You only have the procedure once so you want it done right the first time. Most low cost LASIK centers have not made the investments necessary to upgrade to the all-laser technology. A frequent call to our clinic starts out with "How much is LASIK" but that is not the point. The main consideration should be how happy you will be with your vision for years to come.
The computer guided WaveLight FS200 laser is 100% more accurate than the metal blade and is currently the best possible way to prepare for the second part of the procedure, shaping the surface of your eye to improve your vision. The many advantages of this laser to make the flap include improved safety, better vision, reduced dry eye symptoms, higher predictability and precision, personalized flap, reduced night glare and halos, and allowing more patients to qualify for LASIK.
WHAT HAPPENS DURING THE LASIK PROCEDURE?
Below are a number of videos explaining what will happen during your LASIK procedure so you will be well prepared on your big day! Be sure you have a driver on the day of the procedure and have cleared you schedule for that day and the day after - meaning you should take two days off of your regular activities for the procedure and recovery. You would have been in for your pre-operative evaluation 1-2 weeks before the procedure when we did extra testing and used long acting dilating drops that affect your near vision for up to 12 hours. For that appointment, you would have been out of your soft contacts (if you wear them) for a week or 1 month if you wore hard or gas permeable contacts.
STEP 1: Once you arrive at the LASIK center, you are given a Valium pill to relax you and your care after the procedure is thoroughly explained to you. You then enter the LASIK suite and your eyes are marked for the correction orientation. This is done because your eyes rotate slightly when you lay down. You then lay down on the bed and are rotated to the left under the first laser, the FS200. The next step is that a small cone is brought down gently on the surface of the eye while you look into the dark tunnel. There is a slight pressure sensation but no pain.
STEP 2: The laser then sends tiny air bubbles into your cornea at 120 microns below the surface to make the corneal flap. This cool laser is painless and takes less than 10 seconds to make a perfectly centered corneal flap. We do the right eye first and then the left.
STEP 3: You are then rotated to the center again and the area around your eyes cleaned. The second laser, the EX500, has already been programmed with your exact treatment plan to contour the shape of your cornea to provide a customized approach to clear vision. Again, we do the right eye first and then the left.
STEP 4: Once under the second laser, the EX500, the corneal flap of the right eye is gently lifted and the laser used to improve your outlook on life! You look at the green light during the cool laser treatment which lasts less than a minute and is also pain-free. The flap is then gently re-positioned and dried in place for a minute and a half.
STEP 5: We then do the same thing with the left eye. Before you know it the whole process is over and you are ready to go home for your nap. When you sit up from the laser your vision is much better than before without glasses but still slightly blurred, like looking through dirty glasses. When you wake up from your nap it is better again. The next morning you should be about 90% healed but still may be slightly blurry. Most patients can drive themselves to their appointment that day but healing varies so it is a good idea to have a back-up driver to get you to your appointment the day after the procedure.
WHAT TYPE OF LASERS DO YOU USE?
We exclusively utilize blade-free LASIK with the Alcon WaveLight FS200 laser for generating the flap and the Alcon WaveLight Ex500 laser for the reshaping your cornea. Together they provide an integrated laser system that is the fastest available in the U.S.
The main advantage of the blade-free laser system over the older microkeratome blade is safety: It is almost impossible to have a complication in surgery when making the flap with the laser. The laser places tiny bubbles at the precise depth set by our doctors and takes only 21 second pain-free seconds per eye. With direct visualization by our doctor, you are assured that the flap is centered over the pupil each and every time. The older microkeratome is a blind pass over the cornea, possibly resulting in off-center or irregular flaps and permanently blurred vision. Another advantage of the laser generated flap is the customization for the individual patients by precisely controlling the thickness of the flap. The result is that many who were told in the past they were not a candidate for LASIK can now benefit from this remarkable procedure.
The Alcon WaveLight EX500 has the fastest eye tracking system available today-- it is 20 times faster than natural eye movements! This advanced laser is updated frequently as new technology becomes available. The lasers are not just faster, they are also more precise. The improvement in vision, especially for those with more extreme prescriptions, is even better than before. They also open up LASIK to many who may not have been candidates in the past because they can treat the widest range of prescriptions of any laser available.
The pairing of the Alcon WaveLight ES200 and EX500 lasers assures you that you are having the safest and most precise refractive procedure available-- right here in Milwaukee.
HOW MUCH RECOVERY TIME DO I NEED?
Usually we recommend that you take 2 days off your usual routine for LASIK vision correction. On the day of the procedure you are lightly sedated and going home for a protracted nap is helpful to speed your recovery. That means that you definitely need to take the day of the procedure off. On the day after many patients see very well but others take a bit more time to heal so it is just safer to keep that day free also.
We generally schedule LASIK procedures on Thursdays so typically patients who do not work weekends have the extra buffer of the weekend to recover. It is, however, acceptable to return to work 2 days after your LASIK procedure.
You also need to arrange for a ride to the LASIK center on the day of your procedure and have a back-up driver for the day after in case you do not feel confident driving to your appointment with us that day.
AM I A GOOD CANDIDATE FOR LASIK?
There is no way to tell over the phone if a patient is a good candidate for LASIK vision correction. We really have to see you and examine your eyes. That is the purpose of the free screening exam. The exam starts with you viewing an educational video about iLASIK. We than evaluate your distance prescription, the size of your pupils, the stability of your glasses prescription, the curvature of the surface or your eyes and your corneal thickness. Once these factors have been measured by an ophthalmic technician, you are seen by Dr. Martha Jay who evaluates the information and examines your eyes.
In order to be a good candidate for LASIK, your glasses prescription should not have changed significantly over the last 1-2 years. Your eyes must be otherwise healthy. You should be at least 18 years-old, although it is rare to have a stable glasses prescription before age 21. Your cornea cannot be too thick or too thin. Your pupils cannot be too large. You must have a glasses prescription that is within the limits of the procedure.
CAN I GET LASIK IF I HAVE DIABETES, GLAUCOMA OR AM PREGNANT?
Yes, you can have LASIK if you have diabetes or glaucoma but these conditions must be under good control. Part of the reason for the thorough pre-operative eye examination we do is to be sure that your eyes are not affected by other medical or eye conditions. Should you have diabetic eye problems such as bleeding or swelling in the back of the eye, these conditions would have to be treated first and be stable before considering LASIK.
If you have glaucoma but it is under good control, LASIK may still be an option. If the condition is severe with loss of vision, however, LASIK would not be encouraged.
If you are pregnant or nursing, you want to wait at least 2-3 months after delivery or discontinuing nursing to consider LASIK as your prescription may be altered temporarily by the hormonal changes. You can still come in for a screening but we would wait for the actual procedure until that time.
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