What is IntraLase?

IntraLase FS 2 laser system is a 4th generation femtosecond laser, designed specifically for LASIK and advanced corneal surgery procedures.
Intralase is an all laser, 100% blade-free technique for creating the corneal flap (the first step in laser vision correction).

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The IntraLase method uses a femtosecond laser that emits pulses of laser light to create tiny bubbles at a predetermined depth in the corneal stroma. When these bubbles coalesce, a perfect flap is formed that is customized to your precise predetermined measurements. Once this corneal flap has been created and reflected back, the second step of the LASIK treatment can begin with the excimer laser.

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What is the difference between a corneal flap created with the IntraLase Method and one created with a Microkeratome blade?

A microkeratome is a mechanical hand held instrument with an oscillating steel blade. As such it has obvious limitations and carries with it intrinsic risks associated with handheld mechanical instruments. The flap created with such an instrument may be uneven in depth and thickness.

The figure below demonstrates the process of creating a flap with a handheld microkeratome during “conventional LASIK”. We would like to stress that we don’t own and NEVER utilize mikrokeratome for our patients at the Benjamin Eye Institute.

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  1. In the first step a suction ring is placed on the eye
  2. The mechanical microkeratome, with its oscillating blade passes across the cornea
  3. Suction ring is removed, the flap has been formed

This process is NEVER used at the Benjamin Eye Institute.

As an alternative, the IntraLase uses a computer guided laser, greatly reducing the uncertainty and risks associated with the oscillating blade and and makes LASIK a truly precise procedure.

Corneal Flap Creation with IntraLase

Since most LASIK complications may be traced back to the flap, we believe that flap creation is one of the most important steps, and requires the high technology solution of the IntraLase Method.

A corneal flap created with the IntraLase Method is customized as to shape, diameter, thickness, depending on each eye’s unique curvature, corneal thickness, diameter and shape.

When a LASIK flap is created with an IntraLase, the resulting surface of the underlying stroma is much smoother when compared to the surface after the mechanical blade.

This difference is demonstrated in the electron micrograph below. The 300 times magnification is best for seeing this difference.

Figure 1. Electron micrograph comparing the surface quality of a cornea treated with a microkeratome vs. IntraLase. At 9x magnification not much difference is noted. However, at a much higher 300x magnification the difference is clear.

The IntraLase treated corneal surface is noticeably smoother than the one treated with the mechanical blade. How this affects the quality of vision is demonstrated in Figure 2.

Better vision with IntraLase

Smoother surface means better vision. In clinical trials, 69% of patients who underwent LASIK with the IntraLase Method achieved better than 20/20 vision (20/15) compared to 49% of those who had conventional microkeratome LASIK.

This difference was shown to be statistically significant. The patients in the IntraLase group also reported better quality of vision overall, particularly in terms of their ability to see well in low light such as at dusk or at night.

Intralase vs Microkeratome Chart
Figure 2. comparison of visual acuities of patients treated with IntraLase method (blue bars) with those treated with the microkeratome. At 2 and 3 months post op, more patients achieve 20/20 vision in the IntraLase group than in the microkeratome group. Significantly more patients achieve 20/15 (better than 20/20) vision in the IntraLase group.

How is the IntraLase Method different from Epi-LASIK or photo-refractive keratectomy (PRK)?

IntraLase and PRK differ from one another in the way they prepare the surface of the cornea for the second step of LASIK.

Epi-LASIK uses an epikeratome – a blunt separator – to make a superficial flap. Similarly, photo-refractive keratectomy (PRK) is performed by gently removing the face layer of the cornea.

Both the Epi-LASIK and PRK procedures can be painful during recovery (first 3 days) and require more postoperative medication. In addition, healing times may be longer than with procedures performed with the IntraLase Method.

IntraLase tailors the procedure to your eye

The IntraLase Method gives Dr. Benjamin the ability to tailor the dimensions of your corneal flap based on what’s best for your eye. Everything from the diameter of your flap to the angle of its edges can be precisely determined.

This is important because everyone’s eyes are shaped a little differently. Having a corneal flap that’s individualized to the patient contributes to excellent postoperative outcomes. In addition, a corneal flap created with the IntraLase Method also “locks” back into position after the LASIK procedure is performed.

Is the IntraLase Method safe?

Worldwide, more than 5 million procedures have been performed safely and effectively using the IntraLase Method.

How long does it take to create a flap using the IntraLase Method?

The creation of the flap itself takes only about 15-30 seconds per eye. Including preparation time, the entire LASIK procedure takes about 10 – 15 minutes.

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