LASIK (Laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis) involves treating nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism by reshaping the eye's cornea to alter the way the eye refracts light. LASIK involves creating a flap, removing a defined amount of corneal tissue by an excimer laser, and replacing the flap. In standard LASIK with a mechanical microkeratome, the flap is created by a blade; in bladeless LASIK, the newer type, the flap is created by a femtosecond laser.
"At six months after surgery, there are no differences between the eyes that had bladeless or microkeratome LASIK with respect to visual acuity (vision as measured by reading an eye chart), contrast sensitivity (ability to discriminate bright objects from dark objects), or in perception of stray light or glare, such as the glare from oncoming headlights," says Sanjay Patel, M.D., Mayo Clinic ophthalmologist and study investigator.
Given the equivalent findings thus far in eye health and vision between the two types of LASIK, Dr. Patel slightly prefers bladeless LASIK due to its potential safety, which was not measured in his study. "I'd say the short-term outcomes are equal and the risks are, in theory, less with the bladeless technique, although our study was not designed to compare risks," he says. "Bladeless LASIK is potentially safer because of its computer-controlled precision, the ability to visualize the flap being created, and to stop the procedure whenever necessary. That said, however, the risk of complications with a traditional, microkeratome blade is very small: some vision loss from surgery with