LASIK got really popular, really fast, when it showed up in the late 90s. How could it not? Until then, the idea of getting out of glasses was a fantasy. It would have been like needing crutches your entire life, and one day your friend says, “Hey, there’s a new 10 minute procedure that lets you walk just great without cru-” …we don’t even know what the end of his sentence was; we already ran out the door to find this magic procedure. That’s what LASIK was! It was new and exciting and it let people see great without glasses – the crutches of the vision world.
The other reason LASIK got so popular is because they wisely named it “LASIK.” This was a shrewd move because it is vague and yet still sounds laser-y and hi-tech. And more importantly, it left out a key part of the procedure back then: the blade. I’m not sure “bladed LASIK” would’ve ever caught on, no matter how self-evidently miraculous it was. People don’t want anything near their eyes, but number one on that list – you guessed it – “blades.”
But now there is bladeless LASIK. The whole procedure, start to finish, is done with lasers and blades are kept far away in a closet in the year 2003. Here’s the crazy thing: not all LASIK performed today is bladeless. It’s an important question to get answered as you’re seeking out the right place to get LASIK. It’s important because there’s more than just marketing behind it. Even though just getting rid of the “ick” factor is enough for most people, there’s also a lot of research that shows how much better all-laser LASIK is.
To understand the medical benefit of bladeless LASIK, it’s important to know the cornea has layers. Like an onion. If you’ve ever cut through the side of an onion with a knife, you’ll see that you’re looking at rings, because you’ve cut through a bunch of those onion layers. The same is true of a microkeratome (the name of the blade used in LASIK) cutting a cornea. But with a laser, it’s different. A femtosecond laser (the name of the laser that replaced the blade) lays down a layer of microscopic bubbles between two of the natural corneal layers. Nothing sharp is required (kind of similar to how you don’t need a knife to separate layers of an onion). This makes everything more even and symmetrical than a microkeratome can possibly achieve, and that gives more predictable results.
The other big benefit of all-laser LASIK is that, because it is bladeless, it changes the type of complications that are possible. And it changes them very much for the better. I like to describe the complications of bladeless LASIK as “complications of inconvenience,” which is worlds better than the old days. The worst complications I’ve seen with bladeless LASIK are the inconvenience of having to wait longer for the final result. In tens of thousands of cases, I’ve never had a patient who didn’t achieve better vision after LASIK. And that’s largely because I’ve been fortunate enough to never use a microkeratome blade in LASIK.
New technologies arrive with a bit of a honeymoon phase. So it was with LASIK. It doesn’t have to be perfect at first if it’s offering something hitherto impossible. Ever see what cars were like a century ago? A big muscle man had to crank the engine if you wanted to go somewhere. And no one minded a bit! – because cars were new and fun. But we become more discerning customers as time goes by.
A new technology’s arrival is exciting because of its novelty. Then as that technology develops it must improve to earn that excitement. It’d be hard to sell a car with 1920s technology today. Once the salesman said, “and then you’ll walk to the front and crank…” people would realize that this dealership may not be up to modern standards. With LASIK, unfortunately it isn’t always so obvious. Or it isn’t so obvious for other people, I should say …it’ll be obvious to you because you’re the kind of person to read a blog like this.
Interested in Bladeless LASIK?
If you would like more information about this new technique or would like to be assessed for eligibility, please get in touch with Magruder Laser Vision today at (407) 843-5665 or schedule a consultation today!