Wavefront technology in laser eye surgery makes 20/20 vision a clear reality

San Francisco 14 April 2003After receiving wavefront-guided LASIK, a promising new technology that allows physicians to customise the LASIK procedure, an overwhelming majority of patients experienced better vision quality, with 96 percent of treated eyes attaining 20/20 vision, according to data presented at the annual scientific sessions of the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery (ASCRS).

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Wavefront-guided LASIK works by beaming light through the eye and taking detailed measurements as the light bounces back. These measurements are recorded on a virtual map, highlighting each patient's individual visual imperfections. During LASIK surgery, this map is used by the surgeon to tailor the laser beam settings, making the procedure customised to the precise vision specifications of that particular patient. As a result, wavefront-guided LASIK leads to sharper, crisper vision and a reduction in many of the most common complications associated with LASIK, such as night time vision difficulties.

"This new technology has been tremendously beneficial to the patients, because we have provided them with enhanced sharpness and quality of vision with fewer complications, which means higher patient satisfaction", stated Douglas Koch, MD, trial investigator and professor of ophthalmology at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. "In addition there is an important diagnostic role, since it enables us to approach the surgery with a clearer understanding of each individual's unique correction needs."

The multicentre study evaluated the use of bilateral wavefront-guided LASIK in 320 eyes of 173 patients. While 96 percent of eyes reached 20/20 vision, an important clinical vision standard, a remarkable 74 percent saw 20/16 or better, a significant improvement over this standard for good vision.

The findings are supported by several other studies on wavefront technology to be presented at ASCRS' annual meeting, which contain similarly encouraging results. Notably, a study presented by Stephen G. Slade, MD, national medical director, TLC Laser Eye Centers, found that a very high percentage of patients reported that light sensitivity (92,4 percent), glare (84,7 percent) and night driving difficulties (89,7 percent) were improved or unchanged after wavefront-guided surgery. In addition to reduced complications, almost 99 percent of patients reported that they were satisfied with the wavefront-guided surgery.

"ASCRS applauds all technological advancements in the field of laser eye surgery, especially when they have such a significant impact on patient outcomes", stated Stephen S. Lane, MD, ASCRS president, clinical professor of ophthalmology, University of Minnesota. "In fact, we have just included information on wavefront in our LASIK Screening Guidelines to ensure that patients are informed about this new tool and how it may affect their vision quality."

LASIK is currently the most common type of laser eye surgery in the United States, performed an estimated 1,5 million times each year. The LASIK Screening Guidelines, the first initiative of the Eye Surgery Education Council (ESEC), were designed to help patients assess whether they are an "ideal", "less than ideal" or "non" LASIK candidate.

The LASIK guidelines outline what patients should expect from their doctor and from the procedure itself. The recently-updated guidelines include a description of wavefront and how it works, potential evaluation and treatment uses for the technology and a discussion of expectations for wavefront-guided procedures.

The Eye Surgery Education Council (ESEC) is an initiative established by ASCRS, a professional society of ophthalmologists dedicated to raising the standards and skills of surgeons, who operate on the anterior (front) segment of the eye, through clinical education, and to work with patients, government and the medical community to promote delivery of quality eye care.

The ESEC, which is committed to helping patients make informed decisions about undergoing laser eye surgery, has two missions: to provide patients with accurate, accessible information, and to promote active physician/patient discussion about the benefits and risks of laser eye surgery procedures.

The materials available from ESEC are educational in nature and are not intended to serve as a substitute for medical advice. The decision whether to undergo laser eye surgery must be made by each individual based on the relevant facts and circumstances acting in consultation with a qualified eye care professional. The ESEC is supported by unrestricted educational grants from the ASCRS Foundation, which supports education, research and charitable eye care projects in the developing world.


Leslie Versweyveld

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