New Procedure Improves Lasik

Reporter:Shannon Samson

Web Producer:Amber Griswold

Before a laser can permanently shape your corneas in Lasik surgery, a doctor has to figure out exactly what's wrong with your vision.
That was done much like picking out the right pair of corrective lenses, through trial and error. But now, something called "wavefront technology" is changing that.
The Bausch & Lomb brand name for this technology is Zyoptix, and it can't be performed on about 15 percent of patients, those with extremely high vision corrections or those who want one eye corrected differently than the other.
PPG employee, Linda Schapker, inspects glass through thick glasses, which she can't stand to wear anymore. Until recently, ophthalmologists could only measure nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism. But now wavefront technology is allowing them to measure abnormalities called "higher order aberrations."

Dr. Tharp, explained, "The big advantage is it probably gives you a little higher probability of the 20/20 vision, and it's supposed to help you with your night vision as well. In the FDA trials, 40% of people thought they actually had enhanced night vision."

It's all made possible with wavefront technology in the pre-surgery examination. A machine called an abberometer sends a sounding light beam into the eye and measures the distortion that's caused by the eye's own focusing system, as the light bounces off the back of the eye and exits the pupil.
The information is then mathematically converted into an advancing wave of light, a computer-generated cone, that's as unique to a patient as a fingerprint. With this image, the doctor can detect those higher order aberrations and design a customized vision correction plan for the laser to perform.
It's technology so advanced, that Doctor Tharp says it may be refined, but not replaced anytime soon.
"The big quantum change, the most recent one and really the only that's been on the horizon for a while, is the wavefront guidance and it's pretty much here now."
And just like with traditional Lasik, the whole procedure takes only about a half hour. And patient Linda Schapker could be back to work at the glass factory, minus her glasses, the very next day.