If you are interested in LASIK Laser Vision Correction, you have probably heard the term, “wavefront” used in connection with the procedure. What is “wavefront”, what advantages can this revolutionary technology offer you and how can it impact your vision after surgery?
What Is Wavefront® Custom LASIK?
Basically, it refers to the excimer laser’s capability which is two-fold: to provide
- a incredibly detailed map of the eye for diagnostic purposes that is uniquely individual to each patient
- highly sophisticated and individualized information that can enable our LASIK surgeon to change the shape of the cornea using the more advanced diagnostic mapping system.
In Custom or Wavefront Corrected Lasik, a special instrument called a Aberrometer measures how your eye uniquely sees and your Lasik or PRK is Customized to better improve your vision.
The WaveFront® technology was developed some years ago as a means to refine and sharpen the optics in high-powered the telescopes used by astronomers. It is a technology that has allowed scientists better views of the universe by eliminating aberrations caused by the Earth’s atmosphere. Now, WaveFront® technology has been applied to produce highly refined corneal “maps” and to use the same information to treat aberrations of the cornea by eliminating carefully selected tissue in an effort to improve vision. Remember, LASIK works by reshaping the cornea (that is too steep or too flat) of the eye to enable light to converge in a clear point of focus on the macula (central portion) of the retina.
Benefits of Wavefront Custom LASIK
Conventional LASIK surgery attempts to recreate the vision correction that your eyeglass prescription provides. The problem is: eyeglass prescriptions are not unique, as millions of people have the same eyeglass prescription, yet each has subtle differences in his or her vision.
This is because many of the unique characteristics of each person’s vision cannot be measured during an eye exam. This is typically because any higher measurements couldn’t be replicated in eyeglass manufacturing capabilities, so there’s no point. Because of these variations, however, different people can have the same exact prescription, yet they see the world with different degrees of clarity.
Here are a couple reasons why WaveFront Custom LASIK is better:
- WaveFront Custom LASIK delivers more precise measurements — When you are having a routine eye exam and your refractive errors are being measured, the phoropter slides two different lenses in front of your eye in succession, and you’re asked which provides clearer vision. Each lens click in the phoropter represents the smallest unit of power used to manufacture a conventional pair of eyeglasses, which is 0.25 diopter (D). This is why a typical eyeglass prescription has numbers like -1.25 D and -1.50 D. There isn’t a 1.3 D.
When we use WaveFront Custom LASIK to measure your refractive errors, the power of lenses required to correct your vision is measured in 0.01 D. That means, when compared to a standard phoropter, WaveFront LASIK measures, in effect, an additional .24 D between every conventional lens choice. That means the measurements with our WaveFront Custom LASIK at Dr. Sondheimer’s are 25 times more precise than lens power used in eyeglass prescriptions.
- WaveFront is more specific — When determining an eyeglass prescription during an eye exam, one lens prescription is determined for the entire eye. But each eye has refractive errors and focusing imperfections across the entire cornea. These are known as higher-order aberrations. That’s why different people with the same exact eyeglass prescription can have somewhat different vision quality.
WaveFront Custom LASIK changes that. It collects measurements from hundreds of separate reference points on the front surface of the eye. All of these data points are used to create a detailed map of your higher-order aberrations, enabling better correction with the LASIK procedure.
The measurements detailed above are then used to program the excimer laser for your LASIK procedure, creating even more precise changes to your cornea thanks to WaveFront Custom LASIK.
Candidates for Wavefront Custom LASIK
Obviously, most patients can benefit from the improved accuracy provided by Dr. Sondheimer’s WaveFront Custom LASIK. But there are exceptions: if the patient has thin corneas, is there is too much refractive error, if their astigmatism is too great, and other factors. Dr. Sondheimer will discuss if he feels WaveFront is the right option for you or not.
What Can I Expect During My Wavefront® LASIK Treatment?
Your LASIK evaluation will begin with a complete examination by our eye care specialist. At this point, WaveFront® diagnostics may be used to accurately determine if WaveFront®-guided correction is the procedure of choice in order to provide optimal vision after surgery. WaveFront® technology works by measuring the distortions or irregularities of the eye, also known as higher order aberrations. When a ray of light first enters the eye, it passes through the cornea, through the lens and vitreous where it reaches the retina. As it bounces off the retina and returns through the vitreous, lens, etc., WaveFront® analysis detects any distortions/aberrations in the eye which are uniquely individual. This information can then be used to create a customized “map” of the eye and a customized treatment program.
Recovery From Wavefront Custom LASIK
Recovery after WaveFront Custom LASIK is no different than conventional LASIK. Remember, all that is happening is the pre-procedure measurements taken are more precise with WaveFront LASIK. The laser procedure of reshaping the cornea and the recovery are the same. Here is what you expect during your recovery.
After your brief surgery (10 minutes), we’ll examine your eyes. We’ll give you some prescription eye drops to prevent infection and inflammation and to keep your eyes moist. After your surgery, you may have some slight itching or burning in your eyes, and you’ll probably have some additional tear production. These are normal signs of the healing process.
Healing after LASIK occurs very quickly. In most patients, vision is normal within eight hours and then continues to improve over time. In some cases, it can take a few months to reach the full extent of your vision improvement. But in other patients, results are realized within a few weeks with a dramatic improvement in just hours.
Are There Any Reasons Why Wavefront® LASIK May Not Be for Me?
There are several instances in which WaveFront® ablation may not be preferable, i.e., thin corneas, the size of the pupil too small, too nearsighted, too farsighted, too much astigmatism, etc. Based on your complete eye exam and WaveFront® diagnostics, our LASIK surgeon will discuss the advisability of undergoing the WaveFront® procedure. It is important that each patient understands there are no guarantees for any surgical outcome, and refractive surgery is included our LASIK surgeon, however, wants to offer the latest technology for those patients who are candidates and want to avail themselves of it, and he will thoroughly discuss all options with you.
Wavefront® Vision Correction Vs Traditional LASIK Eye Surgery
If you are considering undergoing “monovision” (the under correction of one eye to create a situation in which one eye can be used for distance vision and the other for near vision) to get rid of bifocals or reading glasses, you will need to undergo conventional LASIK since WaveFront® technology will NOT under correct the eye.
Custom WaveFront® LASIK is certainly a high technology option, but there are exceptions and it is not for every patient. Discuss WaveFront® with our eye care specialist who will thoroughly explore your particular options and make recommendations based on years of performing successful surgeries.
Is Lasik Safe and What Are the Side Effects?
LASIK surgery is safe and successful in the overwhelming majority of cases. Still, as with any surgery, there are some risks. We’ll discuss these with you prior to your surgery. These are potential complications/side effects of this surgery, although they are rare:
- Sensitivity to glare
- Seeing halos around bright lights
- Double vision
- Dry eyes
- Problems with the flap, such as infection, excessive tearing, and swelling