What is it for?
Today, the majority of surgeons use a femtosecond laser instead of a mechanical microkeratome when creating a LASIK flap.
A femtosecond laser is also the type of laser used to perform a SMILE treatment. Common brand names of this technology include IntraLase, ZLASIK and VisuMax.
What actually happens?
You lie down on the laser bed facing up. After anaesthetising your eyes with eye drops, the surgeon holds your eye open using a lid holder. Your eye is held steady by creating suction between it and the laser.
A femtosecond laser beam is then used to create a bubble layer within the cornea to delineate a circular corneal flap with a hinge in LASIK, or a refractive lenticule in SMILE.
In LASIK, the surgeon folds the flap back to expose the inner surface of the cornea, which is then ready for reshaping. In SMILE, the surgeon manually removes the lenticule in one piece through a small 2-mm keyhole opening.
How does it feel?
You may feel some slight pressure and gentle pushing and pulling but no discomfort. This may feel a little strange, but it is not painful. While the suction is applied, your vision will go fuzzy.
How does it benefit you?
Femtosecond lasers allow the surgeon to create a thinner flap than is possible using a microkeratome. The femtosecond laser has also enabled the SMILE procedure to be possible.