Laser Eye Surgery in 2020
2020: It’s the year of the world’s first robot Olympics and a time when more people will have mobile phones than electricity, cars will drive themselves, and your typical home computer will have the processing power of a human brain. But what does it have in store for Laser Eye Surgery?
Well, if its history is anything to go by, a lot — a heck of a lot.
Since the dawn of the first laser eye treatment —PRK — in the 1980s, every passing year has brought another innovation. The first big one to make an impact was LASIK — the quick and comfortable successor to treatments like PRK and LASEK. Then came along the femtosecond laser and wavefront, two new technologies which transformed LASIK into what it is today.
More recently, treatments for presbyopia like PRESBYOND® Laser Blended Vision emerged. And more recently still, Small Incision Lenticule Extraction (SMILE) hit the scene, another technology which has made the procedure shorter, safer, and more accessible to people with harder to treat prescriptions.
In the not too distant future, experts believe that the femtosecond laser, along with ever more sophisticated mapping technology, will make it possible to correct any refractive error.
A world in which everyone has perfect vision
Over a quarter of a million people in the world suffer from partial or total blindness. In the developed world, visual impairment is most commonly caused by age-related conditions like macular degeneration and glaucoma. But of all the causes, cataracts is to blame more than any other.
“There shouldn’t be any blind person ten years from now in the world.” — Josef Bille, 2014
It’s only a matter of time before therapies using femtosecond lasers will be available to treat patients with cataracts. In fact, it’s been possible for a number of years. However, by 2020, using advanced technology and the ultra-fine beam of the femtosecond laser, it will be incredibly safe and easy to remove the thin layer of the cataract with minimal if not no risk of damaging healthy material in the eye.
You can see the femtosecond laser at work in ReLEx SMILE. In SMILE, the surgeon doesn’t need to switch between instruments to cut the flap and remove the material underneath. To do this, the Carl Zeiss Visumax laser is simply used to make a series of tiny pulses and an interconnecting tunnel in the outer layer of the cornea. Not only does this mean the procedure takes a matter of minutes to perform, but the recovery period following the treatment is reduced considerably.
To add to our 2020 forecasts, ReLEx SMILE will likely be the new standard of Laser Eye Surgery. And, according to the World Health Organization, 32 million cataract operations will be carried out around the world. This would put us well on track to realising the vision of pioneering physicist Josef Bille, in which not one person has a problem with their vision.
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