Local News

Eye Correction Surgery Does Not Have To Involve Blade

Posted September 21, 2005 5:15 a.m. EDT

— Most people have had eye correction surgery that involves a metal, microkeratome blade and a laser, but there is a newer, more expensive procedure many people choose because there's no metal blade.

Michaela Underhill has long considered eye correction surgery, but the thought of a blade on her eye bothered her, so she finally chose Intralase.

"It's bladeless and more accurate, less room for error," said Underhill.

Complications from using a microkeratome blade are rare, but Dr. George Tate said it is not as precise as he would like it.

"It can cut an uneven flap. It cuts a bigger flap than you necessarily have to have. It's hard to take control of the flap with the microkeratome blade," Tate said.

With Intralase, a laser causes thousands of tiny gas bubbles just under the surface of the cornea. The bubbles of gas actually make the cut that creates the flap in the cornea. Then, another laser cuts the circle around the flap and at a steeper angle than a microkeratome blade can cut.

"The effect is though you took a manhole and slid it into the cover. Once it's down, it's less likely to slide and go places," Tate said.

Once the flap is up, vision correction begins. Another laser reshapes the eye's surface. Even with a microkeratome blade, most patients experience the improved vision they want.

Intralase may offer less risk of complication, but it costs $200 to $300 more per eye. Underhill was willing to pay and she said she can already see results. Plus, she does not have to bother with glasses or contacts.

Intralase does have risks of its own even though they are considered rare. There can be inflammation or something called photo-sensitivity, but the problems can usually be treated with eye drops and go away over time.