What is wavefront lasik eye surgery?

Millions of people have reduced their dependence on eyeglasses and contact lenses over the past several years with the refractive surgery procedure known as LASIK.

This procedure can correct refractive errors such as nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism. Now an enhanced version of LASIK, known as wavefront LASIK, is available. This improved system allows eye surgeons to customize the procedure for each eye, providing the possibility of even better vision.

Adapted from technology used in astronomy, wavefront LASIK is a procedure that uses an array of microsensors and a laser. A wave of light from a laser beam is sent through the eye to the retina. This light is reflected out of the eye, and the sensor measures the irregularities at the front of the wave of light as it emerges from the eye. This produces a precise three-dimensional map of the visual system, including the cornea’s imperfections, or aberrations. Thousands of people have the same eyeglass prescription, but because the map is so precise, no two people have the same wavefront measurements.

These wavefront data are translated into a mathematical formula the surgeon uses to program corrections into the ultraviolet cold laser, which vaporizes tissue to reshape the cornea. This new wavefront technology has a better chance of reducing higher-order aberrations that cause glare, haloes and blurry images. All wavefront patients will have some higher-order aberrations after surgery, and in fact some types of aberration may increase. However, wavefront technology is the best tool for quantifying aberrations, and wavefront LASIK results in far fewer aberrations than conventional LASIK.

Concerns about quality of vision and nighttime glare with previous forms of LASIK prevented many people from having their vision corrected. In Food and Drug Administration trials, the majority of patients who had custom LASIK found their night vision to be better after the procedure than it was with their glasses or contact lenses. One FDA study showed More than 70 percent of custom LASIK patients saw better than 20/20.

Wavefront LASIK may not be for everyone because it removes more corneal tissue than conventional LASIK. Patients with thin corneas, high degrees of aberration, severely dry eyes or conditions that affect the lens or vitreous fluid inside the eye may not be good candidates. However, many of these patients may still be good candidates for conventional LASIK. Check with your ophthalmologist, or Eye M.D., to see if wavefront LASIK is right for you.

By Roy S. Rubinfeld, Eye M.D.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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