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What Are the Different Types of LASIK?

Not all LASIK procedures are created equal.

There are a number of factors that determine what your LASIK procedure will involve and what that means for your outcome. Knowing these factors is important because it helps you have an informed conversation with your doctor about what to expect.

But before we get to that, there are two kinds of people who want to get LASIK:

  1. “I’m ready to geek out on LASIK. I will research exhaustively so I know exactly how to work closely with my doctor on what I want.” 
  2. “I want LASIK. I’d really rather not think about it. Just correct my vision and don’t get too specific about what you did to my eye.”

If you’re in group 2, we totally get it! LASIK can be intimidating.  But at the bare minimum, you should feel comfortable talking to your doctor in as much detail as you like.  It is surgery after all, and here’s a simple primer on what questions you should ask your LASIK doctor that may be more appropriate to prep you for your LASIK consultation. Or if you’re just ready to talk to a doctor, you can find one near you here.

If you’re in the first group, let’s chat :)


Blade-free LASIK

Wait, there are blades involved in LASIK? I thought it was all lasers!!

Yes, the LASIK procedure uses a laser to correct your vision. But in preparing your eye for surgery, the doctor can either use another highly sophisticated laser, called a “femtosecond laser,” or what’s called a “microkeratome blade.”

You’ll want to ask your doctor about a blade-free option because there are actual benefits to opting for the femtosecond laser. The laser is linked to fewer complications compared to the blade, and higher patient satisfaction.

Wavefront measurement

Before beginning your procedure, your doctor has to tell the LASIK machine how to correct your vision. Which means your doctor has to measure your vision.

Your doctor can measure your vision using a phoropter, which is the same device he or she would use to prescribe you glasses or contacts. This gives an indication of your overall vision prescription based on one data point, and done correctly, should give you vision on par with the correction you’d get from wearing a pair of contacts or glasses.


(This is a phoropter.)

In contrast, your doctor may instead use the Wavefront method, which scans your eye for more than 1,200 data points. Who doesn’t want more data? This gives a more personalized measurement of your eye, which can lead to a more personalized LASIK procedure that may be up to 25 times more precise than what you would get from phoropter-based LASIK.

The bottom line is different measurement systems come with different levels of information about your unique eyes and vision, and more info may lead to a more personalized, precise level of vision correction. If you’re interested in finding an iLASIK® System surgeon specifically, you can find one near you here.

The bottom line

If you want to get into the finer points with your doctor, asking about your options is the best way to get started, and the above points are a great way to get the ball rolling.

Also remember, LASIK is not for everyone. It’s not recommended if you have diabetes, a history of herpes simplex or herpes zoster keratitis, significant dry eye or serious allergies. There are also side effects associated with LASIK. While they are rare, they can include eye dryness, which may be severe, loss of visual acuity or the need for glasses or contacts after surgery, and visual disturbances like halos (hazy rings around lights), glare, starbursts, double images and other visual irregularities that may be debilitating.

If you’d like to read some first-hand experiences of patients who’ve undergone LASIK, you can find some here, here and here. You can also get full safety information here, and these are also good points to bring up with your doctor about what you can expect to experience and anything you can do to manage side effects.

Now that you know the right talking points, you just need a doctor to talk about them with. You can find a LASIK doctor near you here. Most do consultations for free, and are really good at talking through all the above and more.

© 2020 Johnson & Johnson Surgical Vision, Inc. iLASIK® is a trademark owned or licensed to © 2020 Johnson & Johnson Surgical Vision, Inc. All other trademarks are the intellectual property of their respective owners.

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