Technology and Innovation
Bella Roberts entered Focus as the UK’s first Z-LASIK patient. The mother of three was classed as clinically blind without glasses and had long dreamed of having refractive eye surgery but had been put off by the traditional methods used, such as the older blade-based devices. New femtosecond lasers had changed the playing field completely.
Bella was a little nervous about being the UK’s first Z-LASIK patient but she entered the laser suite and within twenty minutes after treatment her vision was better than 20/20. Whilst this was a life changing moment for Bella Roberts and her family it was also a turning point for Focus and the level of results that we can achieve.
Refractive surgery had now not only reached new levels of safety but with the advent of Z-LASIK it had now become so accurate that vision beyond 20/20 became an everyday occurrence.
The early years of eye surgery
As we previously mentioned refractive surgery has been around for many years and even in the early stages results were impressive. PRK and LASEK were two of the earlier methods of correcting vision. PRK involves removing the epithelium and treating the outermost layer below this with a laser. LASEK is similar but the epithelium is not removed but an alcoholic solution is used to cause the epithelium cells to weaken, allowing the surgeon to fold the epithelial layer out of the laser treatment field and fold it back after the cornea has been reshaped by the laser to correct the vision.
LASIK however involves the idea of creating a flap, folding this back, correcting the vision with a laser and then folding the flap back to heal. Previously the only way to create a flap was to use a microkeratome which housed a blade. For many this was one of the major obstacles to having surgery, although millions of people have had their vision corrected using this procedure.
Whilst millions of people were happy worldwide with their new vision there were many that still did not want to proceed with refractive treatment because of the association with ‘cutting’ or a blade. Laser technology moved forward dramatically in 2000 when the use of a femtosecond laser (The term describes the amount of pulses emitted – a femtosecond is quite literally one billionth of one millionth of a second. For context, a femtosecond is to a second, what a second is to about 32 million years) was used to replace the microkeratome in flap creation.
For the first time refractive surgery had become completely blade-free.
The use of an extremely accurate laser now meant that flap creation was safer, faster and more accurate leading to improved healing and vision results. It also allowed clinics to offer a new standard in sight correction.
Customised Treatment – Wavefront
Wavefront technology was pioneered in the fields of physics and to aid in reducing ‘aberrations’ or imperfections with the complex optical systems of telescopes. However, the WaveLight Allegretto excimer goes beyond just wavefront-guided treatment. It actually has 4 levels of customised correction: wavefront guided, wavefront optimised, custom-Q and topography-guided. Not all lasers can offer this. At Focus, we believe that true customisation comes from matching the customisation to the patients eyes and optics.
In short the WaveLight laser offers a variety of customised treatments based on multiple factors to target superior vision results. Wavefront optimisation is standard on all treatments at Focus.
At Focus our goal is to have one hundred percent of our patients achieve 20-20 vision and beyond with Z-LASIK. Our results have exceeded our expectations. Call us to learn more about our success rates for your prescription.
There are areas in refractive surgery such as presbyopia (the condition where the eye exhibits a progessively diminished ability to focus on near objects with age – it affects all of us at some point in our lives) where technological advance can still play a big role.
Our medical director Mr David Allamby (who is one of the ophthalmic surgeons pioneering treatment for presbyopia) is regularly consulted and featured in the media on these treatments. At Focus we ensure that any new treatments are rigorously tested and approved before being implemented in our clinic.