Wavefront-guided variations of LASIK surgery

It all starts with a little bit of research, and the next thing you know, you’re down the rabbit hole discovering much more than you ever anticipated.

You may have just got to grips with the different types of procedures—PRK/LASEK, LASIK, ReLEx SMILE—only to hear that some treatments even have their variations.

As the most popular form of Laser Eye Surgery, LASIK no doubt has the highest number of different treatment types on offer—at least on the high street. It’s a common tactic among budget clinics to disguise the same treatments under newer and flashier names, in order to differentiate themselves from the competition, increase the appeal of the treatments, and ultimately drive more sales.

UltraLASIK, UltraLASIKplus, Custom LASIK, Accu-wave LASIK, Zyoptix; are just some of the names you’ll come across that all describe the same treatment: Wavefront-guided LASIK.

As a result, such marketing tactics make Laser Eye Surgery come across much more complicated than it is. Away from the high street, private and independent clinics believe wavefront-guided technology is a necessary part of LASIK for anyone, and we will look at exactly why that is.

A quick look at how vision correction works

To get to grips with wavefront, it’s first helpful to look at common vision problems and the solutions that treat them. When you first realise you have a problem with your vision, you take a trip to the optometrist and get checked for errors in your ‘refractive index’. This helps explain how light is directed through your eye.

Errors in refraction or ‘refractive errors’, are the main cause of problems with visual acuity.  The most common are called ‘low-order aberrations’—examples of which are nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. They are subtle imperfections in the way light passes through from the cornea—the lens system of the eye—to the retina—where the light is focused, which affect the eye from being able to focus images properly.

Treating common refractive errors has successfully delivered vision correction to many people with different eye problems. But the reality is our eyes also have their own, unique irregularities outside of the common errors. These can include ghost images, decreased contrast sensitivity or night vision, glare, shadows, and halos. This is where wavefront technology comes in.

What is Wavefront Technology?

The difference between a standard LASIK procedure and wavefront-guided is that the former corrects only your glasses prescription. This is around 90% to 95% of the total refractive error. Wavefront-guided technology allows us to measure the small amount of refractive error that’s left over, using what’s known as a wavefront aberrometer.

This technology measures the ‘higher-order aberrations’ of the eye—the unique irregularities which affect the finer quality aspects of your vision. It does this by picking several spots on the cornea and producing a 3D map detailing the imperfections on the surface.

This is important as different aberrometers have different capabilities. For example, some can only record data from 60 spots, whereas others are as many as 650. Think about the detail a watercolour captures compared to the accuracy of an HD camera.

Read more about the cutting edge Zeiss WASCA aberrometer.

Today’s technology allows us to take a more holistic approach to vision correction. Now we can not only adjust your eyesight based on the handful of common refractive errors but according to your diverse and individual optical irregularities. It’s only fair that such advances in technology should be embraced as the new norm rather than offered as optional or additional extras, so make sure your clinic feels the same!

If you’d like to book a consultation with us, or find out more about how all our LASIK treatments are wavefront-guided, give us a call us on 020 7224 1005.