Laser technology is revolutionizing the surgical treatment of corneal disease. Femtosecond lasers originally developed for LASIK are being used in many new applications to help patients with corneal problems. With the aid of lasers we can create customized incisions in the cornea and can perform a full thickness treatment or just remove the part with the disease.
The advantages to laser assisted corneal surgery are many. When performing a complete corneal transplant procedure, the laser can be used to create incisions which are overlapping or interlocking and allow for much better wound closure and healing than with traditional surgery using a circular blade. The healing process is more rapid, provides better wound integrity, and the visual results are better with less astigmatism afterward. When performing partial thickness corneal transplants there is a lower risk of rejection, better corneal strength and the procedure is less invasive.
Femtosecond lasers can also be used for the placement of Intacs which are transparent ring segments that can be placed within the cornea. Intacs can be used to help treat corneal thinning diseases such as keratoconus and can also be used as an alternative to laser vision correction in some patients.
We currently are using the Intralase IFS femtosecond laser in our practice for the above procedures.
As an alternative to full thickness corneal transplant, we also perform the DSAEK procedure (or descemet’s stripping automated endothelial keratoplasty). While not laser assisted, this relatively new procedure can be used to help patients with corneal swelling due to damage to the inner layer of the cornea. DSAEK has similar advantages including smaller incisions, faster recovery of vision and lower risk of rejection when compared with traditional full thickness corneal transplantation.