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Wavefront LASIK

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Wavefront LASIK involves measuring how light moves through your eyes in real time. That data helps to customize your LASIK surgery. The result is detailed correction of problems like nearsightedness or farsightedness.

What Is Wavefront LASIK?

Wavefront LASIK (also called custom LASIK) is a laser-based surgery that permanently corrects common vision problems. 

LASIK surgery involves creating a flap in your cornea, pulling up that flap, and reshaping the tissues below. The flap is replaced and heals within a few months. The reshaping done by lasers allows light to focus correctly on the retina in the back of your eye. 

Traditional LASIK eye surgery involves removing tissue based on your vision prescription. Wavefront LASIK customizes the tissue removal based on how light moves through your eyes. 

Almost everyone who is a LASIK candidate can be a candidate for wavefront LASIK. However, custom LASIK has strict and specific prequalification conditions that should be met. You may not qualify for wavefront LASIK if you have the following issues:

  • Severe astigmatism
  • Severe nearsightedness or myopia
  • Small pupils

Wavefront LASIK was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2003. Since then, laser manufacturers and surgeons have refined the surgery, offering unprecedented customization for patients. One type of wavefront LASIK produces vision of 20/16 or better in the majority of patients

Surgeons at NVISION Eye Centers use Visx CustomVue WaveScan in their surgeries. This technology offers intense customization and control, and patients are overwhelmingly pleased with the results.

Types of Wavefront LASIK

Two main types of wavefront LASIK exist. They work in a similar manner, but understanding the differences is important. 

The two main types include the following:

  • Wavefront-guided LASIK: The laser relies heavily on data from the corneal mapping program. This is a more sophisticated surgery that involves modern tools and added training. 
  • Wavefront-optimized LASIK: The doctor uses data to guide the laser, but is always in full control. This type of surgery is slightly more common, but as more doctors get trained in wavefront-guided LASIK, that may change.

Some people use topography-guided LASIK when discussing wavefront. Know that this isn’t the same thing. Topography-guided LASIK involves measuring the eye’s surface, not how light moves through it.

How Wavefront LASIK Surgery Works

Every LASIK surgery involves careful measurements and precise cuts. Wavefront LASIK gives doctors very detailed data about the precise shape of your eye, allowing them to personalize your surgery with care. 

During wavefront LASIK, doctors use a wavefront device to shine light into your eye. The beam is reflected off the back of your eye and into a measurement device. Computers transform that data into a detailed, 3D map of your eye. 

How LASIK is performed depends on the type of wavefront surgery your doctor chooses. Some let the 3D data guide many of the laser’s decisions. Others let the map inform the cuts they make manually.

There are many advantages to this approach to LASIK, but it also has some disadvantages to consider.

Advantages of wavefront LASIK include the following:

  • Personalization: Tissue removal is precise and based on the exact thickness and shape of your cornea. 
  • Results: You have a better chance of needing no glasses or contacts after LASIK with this approach. 
  • Fewer side effects: Precision means you’ll have less difficulty with contrast sensitivity or night vision. 

People with very strong prescriptions tend to get the biggest benefit from wavefront technology. Traditional LASIK typically exacerbates issues like night vision. Custom mapping means adjusting the eye’s inconsistencies. Imperfections leading to halos or glares around bright lights and problems when the pupil is dilated, such as seeing well in low light, are less likely to occur.

Disadvantages of wavefront LASIK compared to traditional LASIK include the following:

  • Too much tissue removal: Changes needed to adjust all aberrations of the cornea could leave it too thin for later LASIK procedures (if required).
  • Cost: Neither traditional nor wavefront LASIK are covered by insurance for the most part, and wavefront will likely be more expensive.
  • Time required: The wavefront procedure may take longer than traditional LASIK.

Benefits of Wavefront LASIK vs. Traditional LASIK 

What it treatsNearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatismNearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism
AccuracyWavefront is personalized to your eyes and extremely accurate.LASIK is considered very accurate when performed by an experienced surgeon.
Visual outcomesCustomization means a better chance of needing no glasses or contacts at all after surgery. Traditional LASIK has helped millions of people reduce their reliance on glasses and contacts.
Recovery time Most people see clearly within a day or two, but full healing takes longer.Most people see clearly within a day or two, but full healing takes longer.
Side effects Side effects like difficulties with night vision are slightly less common after wavefront.Side effects like itching and discomfort are mild and tend to fade as the eyes heal. 

Is Wavefront LASIK Worth Getting?

LASIK is a permanent, life-improving surgery, and wavefront technology improves this impressive technique even more. The long-term benefits of LASIK are well worth the cost. 

Your doctor can recommend which type of LASIK is best for you. If you’re cost-conscious with mild vision issues, traditional LASIK could be a good choice. LASIK is precise and has helped millions of patients. But if your vision issues are complicated and difficult, the mapping done by wavefront could be an ideal investment in your future. 

The cost of LASIK eye surgery can vary from location to location. But wavefront versions can cost up to $1,000 more per eye. 

Ways to pay for LASIK include insurance, FSAs, HSAs, credit cards, and more. Most providers are happy to work with their patients on customized packages to make the cost approachable. 

After LASIK surgery, you won’t need to put aside money for glasses or contacts. You could save money over the years. And the freedom that comes from opening your eyes and seeing clearly is priceless. 

Wavefront LASIK Frequently Asked Questions

Is wavefront LASIK better than traditional LASIK?

It depends. Wavefront LASIK offers a more precise form of surgery, but the higher price could make it harder for some people.

What is the success rate of wavefront LASIK?

Researchers say 99% of patients are satisfied after having wavefront surgery. Of those patients, 99.4% had uncorrected vision scores of 20/20 or better.

Is wavefront LASIK safe?

Yes. The technology is FDA approved.

Is wavefront LASIK painful?

Most people don’t experience pain from LASIK.

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