How is Wavefront Technology Used in Lasik Vision Correction?

The wonderful results of Lasik surgery have been improved by research adding new methods, such as Wavefront technology. This technology gives a Lasik physician the ability to see and accurately map even slight variations in the surface of the eye. This gives the physician the ability to more accurately tailor a Lasik operation to the individual, and result in even clearer vision.

The concept behind Wavefront technology was originally developed by astronomers, in order to indicate if a mirror or a lens had slight imperfections in it. It is very important in astronomy to get near perfect optics in order to clearly see the small light sources million of miles away in the universe. In the 1970s a sensor was created to electronically check these surfaces, and a type of this sensor is now used in the Wavefront guided Lasik procedures.

The idea to apply this technique, or to use this sensor, to the field of ophthalmology and later to the specific area of Lasik vision correction, was begun in Germany. The physician Josef Bille began using the sensor in his practice, and this started others to refine the sensor and how it is used and to apply it to Lasik technology. In 1997 the improved sensor, with greater accuracy and speed, was announced to the Lasik laser manufacturers. This allowed the companies that manufacture the Lasik equipment to develop tools using the Wavefront concept for each of their own laser systems.

The FDA approved the first Wavefront guided Lasik vision correction system for general use. Initially, the Wavefront sensor makes a map of the eye's imperfections, and this map is sent to the laser that is used in the Lasik vision correction portion of the operation. This allows for precise eye alteration in order for Lasik to present the best vision correction possible.

The Wavefront technology used in Lasik can be described easily at an informal level. A small, flat sheet of light (called a wavefront) is passed through the eye, reflected off of the retina, and passed back through the eye and is captured by the Wavefront machine. If the eye were perfect, the light would return as a flat sheet and be captured that way by the Lasik machine. However, any imperfections changes the way that the light returns, and this is detected by the Wavefront part of the Lasik process.

A number of these small, flat sheets of light are sent into each eye from various directions and the results returned generated a three dimensional map of the eye to be used in the Lasik vision correction process. In addition to the commonly known problems of nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism, there are more than 60 other patterns that are known and can possibly be corrected for.

All of this information generated by the Lasik sensor is converted by software into a set of directions to be carried out by the Lasik excimer laser. Ask your doctor about this exciting advance in Lasik vision correction, and see if this procedure is right for you!

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