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Wavefront Laser Eye Surgery


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Wavefront technology is a recent addition to the field of laser eye surgery. It involves using a computer to make a very accurate map of the eye, so that when the laser removes part of the tissue from the cornea, it does so only in the right place.

What does Wavefront do?

During development, our eyes become unique to us, just like the colour, shape and size of the iris (the coloured area of our eye). Just as no two fingerprints are alike, no two eyes are exactly the same. Laser eye surgery companies began to realise that even though LASIK and other procedures give fantastic results, they are only standard treatments. This means that some people who have the standard treatment will not get the best results possible. As eyes differ even in the same person, they realised that better results could be achieved if the procedures were tailored to the patient. This means that if you were previously unable to have laser eye surgery due to your cornea being too thin, you may now be eligible for surgery. The wavefront scanner can be used to help correct all types of visual defect, including astigmatism, myopia, hyperopia and night symptoms.

How does Wavefront Work?

Ophthalmologists and scientists worked together to produce a new piece of technology called a wavefront scanner. This uses a light to pass approximately 8000 rays of light into the eye. The machine is then able to monitor how the light is reflected back from the surface of the cornea. This information is then compared to how the cornea should look to give normal vision. This process produces a map that shows all the irregularities that cause us problems with our vision and where tissue from the cornea should be removed. This map is made using the wavefront technology.

How is Wavefront used with LASIK?

Using this map and information from the initial patient scan, during the LASIK procedure the computer is able to tell the laser exactly where to remove bits of the cornea to give the best vision correction. In essence the laser reshapes individual bits of the cornea to give the best possible vision correction for you. This is achieved as the wavefront scanner is able to detect irregularities in your cornea that would otherwise go untreated in the standard LASIK procedure. By using a wavefront map, the ophthalmologist can ensure the best possible outcome, with the lowest incidence of any lasting visual defects out of all the correction procedures.

How many types of wavefront procedure are there and which will be best for me?

There are two main types of wavefront procedures, which one you get given depends upon the shape of your eye. If the initial scan suggests that you have a normal corneal surface, but an irregular shaped eyeball, optimised wavefront or OATZ (optimised aspheric treatment zone) is used to thin your cornea and correct your visual defect.

The second procedure, known as customised wavefront or CATZ (customised aspheric treatment zone) is used if you have a normal eye shape but an irregular corneal surface. The main aim of this type of wavefront is to produce a smoother surface that corrects your vision.

How many wavefront machines are there?

There are a number of systems that use wavefront technology to give the best operative results possible. The most commonly used wavefront system is the Alegretto Wave. It utilises special technology called perfect pulse, which precisely guides the laser pulses to the right areas of the eye even as the eye is moving. This is combined with the fastest laser available on today’s market, which is controlled by a special computer that calibrates the energy of the laser before the procedure starts. This system ensures that the best possible results are available to everyone.

The Alegretto Wave is similar to the Allegro Topolyzer, which also maps the front of the eye, creating a 3-D model that can be used to correct the irregularities present in your cornea. The final system is Nidek OPD, which monitors light rays that pass through the eye. From the information gained from how the rays pass through the eye, a map of the cornea can be produced, helping the ophthalmologist to correct your vision.


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