Thin-Flap LASIK Procedures
Thin-flap LASIK is a method of laser eye surgery that uses thin corneal incisions to produce the same great results as conventional LASIK procedures, but with many important advantages in safety and accuracy. By reducing the depth of the incision, Dr. William Boothe can create the corneal flap, thin-flap LASIK produces the following benefits:
- Faster post-operative recovery
- Fewer risks of developing post-operative ectasia, a condition similar to keratoconus
- Fewer risks of dry eye following the procedure
- Improved visual results owing to greater accuracy
For two decades now, ophthalmologists such as Dr. Boothe across the country have performed laser surgery to correct refractive eye errors, including for myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness) and astigmatism. In standard LASIK procedures, the surgeon uses a handheld blade (microkeratome) to create a corneal flap that is folded back to expose the tissue for ablation. In newer INTRALASIK procedures, this same step is performed without the use of a blade, but with a laser. The corneal flap created in each of these methods is typically at least 180 microns deep.
Once the flap is created, the steps that follow are the same: The laser is used to carefully excise tissue in the cornea to correct the refractive error, with the support of highly advanced eye movement tracking systems. Once this step is complete, the corneal flap is repositioned where it is allowed to heal. You can visit Boothe Laser Center to learn more.
Ectasia, a Common Post-Operative Side Effect
While most people with refractive errors qualify as candidates for standard LASIK, many others are advised against undergoing the procedure because their corneas are thinner, putting them at greater risk for developing post-operative problems such as ectasia. Ectasia closely resembles keratoconus, a naturally occurring condition in which the corneal structure weakens, causing the eye to gradually take on a cone-like shape. In post-operative ectasia, the cornea weakens because too much tissue has been removed and the eye is no longer able to support itself. This condition causes distortions and blurriness in eyesight. Serious cases of ectasia or keratoconus may require corneal transplants.
Thin-flap LASIK is a relatively new method that allows surgeons to make thinner incisions in the cornea (roughly 60 to 80 microns), enabling people with thinner corneas to undergo laser surgery with reduced risks of developing ectasia. In thin-flap LASIK procedures, significantly less corneal tissue or nerves are disturbed, leaving more of the collagen fibers intact and allowing the eye to maintain stability. Thin-flap LASIK can be performed with a blade (microkeratome) or without a blade using femtosecond lasers. Advanced lasers today enable creation of flaps of any thickness.
Overall, recovery time for thin-flap LASIK patients has proven to be faster than conventional LASIK. Accuracy of eyesight is also improved, as deep corneal flaps can produce side effects involving visual glares or halos. Thin-flap LASIK procedures, however, also carry some risk. With a thinner corneal flap, greater probability exists for flap striae, or wrinkles, to occur when repositioning the flap. Surgeons such as Dr. Boothe can usually minimize this through careful manipulation. But in cases of severe refractive error, the shape of the ablated tissue may make it difficult to reposition the corneal flap precisely. Striae can also result from eye rubbing or other trauma. Talk to your doctor today about which method of laser surgery makes most sense for you. Please visit Boothe Eyecare, if you are interested in learning more.