Femtosecond LASIK or blade-free laser refractive surgery is also known as robotic LASIK eye surgery, and is considered a major technological advancement from conventional LASIK for spectacle removal. Traditionally, even though LASIK has been called “laser eye surgery”, it is not an “all laser” procedure.
During conventional LASIK, a microkeratome (which is superior computer controlled knife) is used to raise a thin corneal flap, and the laser ablates the corneal tissue underneath to reshape the cornea.
It is only the femtosecond or all-laser LASIK surgery that a laser is used to carry out the steps that were traditionally done with the microkeratome; with greater precision and safety.
How is Femtosecond laser eye surgery different from traditional LASIK surgery?
Femtosecond laser-assisted robotic LASIK surgery is a novel refractive surgery technique, which was introduced less than a decade ago. This procedure utilizes a femtosecond laser to automate most of the processes of traditional LASIK, making them more predictable and safe.
What are the advantages of Femtosecond laser eyesurgery over traditional LASIK?
The advantages of the technique are several, and these include:
Blade-Free “ Robotic” Surgery: For those patients who are scared of a “knife” this surgery can be a boon. The blade-free experience is a result of the state of the art technology which is safer and more effective than ever before.
Precision: Since most of the surgical steps are fully automated, it results in improved flap safety and better thickness predictability
Safety, fewer complications: Automation makes the process safer and more efficient. Because it is automated, there is a reduced incidence of flap complications like buttonholes, free caps, irregular cuts etc
Useful in thinner corneas: Since the femtosecond machine is capable of cutting thinner flaps, with greater precision, femtosecond LASIK can even be offered to patients with thinner corneas and high refractive errors, as compared to conventional LASIK.
What are the disadvantages of Femtosecond LASIK surgery over traditional LASIK?
In medicine, there is no panacea. Every technology comes with its own particular downside. These disadvantages include:
Additional cost: Use of the laser requires the use of a disposable head for laser delivery, which is one time use only. This adds significantly to the cost of the surgery. Also, the machine is an expensive investment, to buy as well as to run, and therefore, there is an incremental cost to the procedure.
Not everyone is a suitable candidate: Even though femtosecond LASIK can be used for patients with corneas thinner than conventional LASIK, it is not the ideal surgery for all patients. A thorough eye evaluation is essential before it can be advised for any patient.
Is femtosecond LASIK or robotic eye surgery available in India?
Femtosecond LASIK is the latest technology in LASIK eye surgery with faster recovery, higher precision and lower complication rate. In fact, it is the vision correction procedure that is recommended by NASA and the US Army and Navy for Astronauts.
The technology is available in almost all the bigger cities of India, including the metros. Most eye hospitals in the country are well versed in the surgical technique, and have had extensive experience in its use. Almost all hospitals offer this state of the art technology along with the best refractive surgeons, for the management of your refractive errors and associated vision related issues, at a fraction of the cost abroad. Currently, most hospitals offer the surgery at an approximate cost of 75-100,000 INR.