The Latest Advances in Laser Eye Surgery
Imagine laying beneath a machine that is about to use invisible lasers to permanently remove tissue from your eye.
If you didn’t know any more of the story, you’d think this was some kind of torture scene from a second-rate sci-fi movie. But pan back a little, and you see it’s actually a scene from a state-of-the-art clinic that involves a completely safe, pain-free, and revolutionary treatment that can transform your vision from terrible to incredible in a matter of minutes.
It doesn’t sound like a horror anymore, but it still sounds like science fiction. And yet this was the very real reality of Laser Eye Surgery twenty years ago, when it first hit the scene and took the vision correction field by storm.
Since then, the procedure has gone from strength to strength, improving every year thanks to more powerful technology, stricter safety systems, deeper knowledge, and ever greater sums of data (not to mention money!).
To shed some light on this exciting industry, we’re going to discuss three of the biggest shifts in the field since those early days. We’ll also touch a little on what the future may have in store.
By doing this, we hope to provide a clearer idea of just how technologically-advanced the world of Laser Eye Surgery is, while at the same time, demonstrating how what was once science fiction is now well and truly science fact.
Wavefront: Mapping the finer aspects of vision
Prof Dan Reinstein explains why Wavefront is better than conventional Laser Eye Surgery
Quality of vision has long been measured according to what can be corrected by glasses. For example, if you have a prescription of -4.25, that means you have 4 and 1/4 diopters of nearsightedness and need the corresponding lens to correct it.
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But the overall quality of vision cannot be completely assessed by this measurement alone. A glasses prescription only accounts for 90 to 95 percent of a refractive error, leaving a small percentage uncorrected.
Wavefront is an advanced measurement system that maps these additional irregularities. It, therefore, corrects beyond the standard glasses prescription and enhances the finer aspects of vision, which can affect things such as the clarity of colours and crispness of objects.
ReLEx SMILE: A quicker and less invasive procedure
A video of ReLEx SMILE being performed in real time at London Vision Clinic.
ReLEx SMILE is arguably one of the most significant advancements in Laser Eye Surgery to date. Before SMILE, Laser Eye Surgery required the creation of a corneal flap to access and reshape the permanent tissue underneath.
As this can now be done with a new, less-invasive method using the Carl Zeiss VisuMax laser, Laser Eye Surgery has opened up to patients who were once ineligible, including those with very high prescriptions, contact lens intolerance, drier eyes, and thinner corneas.
Because SMILE is minimally invasive, the patient experience is also greatly improved. The procedure takes just 3 minutes for each eye and involves no switching between instruments.
Once the treatment is over, there’s also less risk of dry eye compared with LASIK, and patients can be back to their normal routine — including playing sports — quicker than ever before.
Laser Blended Vision: The end of reading glasses
Expert laser eye surgeon Prof Reinstein on the revolutionary presbyopia treatment, Laser Blended Vision
One of the last significant hurdles for vision correction was overcoming ‘presbyopia’: the need for reading glasses as you get older.
Even today, people still think it’s impossible to defy mother nature and retain youthful vision. But since 2005, thousands of patients have been doing just that thanks to Laser Blended Vision.
The technique, pioneered by Prof Dan Reinstein, works by adjusting each eye to work better either up close or at a distance. The brain adapts to this way of seeing and combines the two perspectives to create one crisp image, allowing for much greater depth of vision and visual acuity than traditional methods like monovision.
The best thing about Laser Blended Vision is that it’s suitable for 97 percent of candidates. It can also significantly reduce, and in many cases completely eliminate, the need for wearing reading glasses, bifocals, or varifocal lenses.
With the biggest obstacles already overcome, in the future Laser Eye Surgery will continue making incremental improvements. Some areas of development include expanding the range of suitable candidates, decreasing the level of risk, and improving patient outcomes even further.
The biggest goal that Laser Eye Surgery now has, however — at least in our clinic — is widening access of the treatment to more and more people. In 2019, it’s more than possible to achieve clear vision and live without many visual impairments, and we aim to help make that possibility a reality for everyone.