The improved vision that results from LASIK surgery with a microkeratome is achieved in two steps. First, the surgeon uses a microkeratome to expose the inner cornea, creating a thin flap of corneal tissue. Then, the cornea is reshaped using an excimer laser. The creation of the corneal flap with a microkeratome is one of the most important aspects of laser vision correction, and must be performed precisely and accurately. Learn more about the microkeratome, including advantages and complications, by reading the sections below.
What is a Microkeratome?
A microkeratome is a precise, hand-held surgical instrument with an oscillating metal blade. It is used to separate the surface layers of the cornea and create a corneal flap during the first step of laser vision correction surgery. First, the microkeratome is placed over the eye, then suction is applied so that the microkeratome is held perfectly still during the procedure. The microkeratome creates a hinged flap, which is laid back while the excimer laser sculpts the cornea into the optimal shape. Once the cornea is re-sculpted into a shape that improves your vision, the tissue is repositioned and healing begins. Visit the LASIK procedure page for a complete step-by-step explanation of LASIK vision correction.
The Modern Microkeratome
In recent years, great advancements have been made in the microkeratome. Laser vision correction is now more accurate and convenient than ever. The newest microkeratomes available on the market offer consistency, precision, and fewer complications.
What Qualities Make a Good Microkeratome?
The factors that determine the quality of a microkeratome are related to its stability and consistency in creating the corneal flap. The newest and best microkeratomes focus on creating corneal flaps that are uniform in thickness, with proper suction maintained throughout the laser vision correction procedure. The following are two of the most state-of-the-art models available today.
The Moria M2 microkeratome has an innovative design that allows your surgeon to view the flap as it is being created, providing greater accuracy. In addition, the quality of the cut and the predictability of flap thickness have been proven in studies to be better and more consistent than with other microkeratomes. The Moria M2 also offers the surgeon greater control over the flap and hinge size.
The Hansatome™ is one of the more advanced microkeratomes available. It has fewer gears, which reduces the potential for creating an incomplete flap as there is less likelihood of the gears jamming. Studies have established that the Hansatome™ has fewer instances of flap complications during laser vision correction surgery, such as partial flaps, free caps (unattached flaps), and buttonholes (improperly formed flaps).
There are several advantages of using the microkeratome in laser vision correction. Compared with other options, such as “bladeless” LASIK, the microkeratome method is generally faster and more comfortable for the patient. The microkeratome procedure typically lasts about three seconds, compared with 15-20 seconds with IntraLase®. In addition, less suction is necessary with the microkeratome procedure, and less inflammation occurs afterward.
Though rare, there are some potential post-LASIK complications that can occur with the microkeratome, such as the risk of a partial flap, hole in the flap, and other flap complications. A flap created using a microkeratome blade can sometimes make the flap thinner in the center and thicker on the edges. A laser flap is the same thickness at the center as it is at the periphery.
The All-Laser LASIK Option
Many surgeons agree that the creation of the flap in the cornea is the most critical step in laser vision correction. In 1999, a type of high-energy laser, called a femtosecond laser or IntraLase®, was created for use as an alternative to the traditional microkeratome blade. Often referred to as “bladeless LASIK,” this procedure is controlled by a computer, which allows the doctor to predetermine specific aspects of the flap, such as thickness and circumference. Due to its precision and accuracy, the IntraLase ® procedure may be a good choice for patients who are not ideal candidates for traditional laser vision correction with a microkeratome.
Find a LASIK Surgeon in Your City
The best way to find out what kind of technology is appropriate for your case is to speak to a qualified surgeon. To learn more about the microkeratome and other laser vision correction options, find a LASIK surgeon in your area.