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    A Better Type of LASIK

    'Knifeless' LASIK Surgery Improves Vision, Cuts Risk of Complication


    In addition to reducing risk of problems, this "all-laser" procedure appears to give patients better vision from the initial procedure. Additional research presented just last week at the annual meeting of the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery -- whose members perform LASIK surgery and other ophthalmic procedures -- indicates that patients treated with INTRALASE require far fewer secondary procedures to correct vision or side effects than those getting with traditional LASIK.

    "Patients want safety in capital letters, and I started using this procedure six months ago because I knew it was safer because it was computer-guided rather than relying on the surgeon," says ophthalmologist Daniel Durrie, MD, director of Refractive Surgery Services at the University of Kansas Medical Center and a spokesman for the American Academy of Ophthalmology. "But I'm finding that in addition to better safety, my patients are seeing better and need less secondary procedures. And every surgeon I've spoken with says that they reduced their rate of these secondary procedures anywhere from 4% to 50%."

    The INTRALASE laser was developed at the University of Michigan originally for other scientific applications. But when Kurtz was doing his residency at its Kellogg Eye Center, he realized it could be used as a "high-precision corneal scalpel" to cut through transparent tissue and be focused to specific depths better than the microkeratome. He and other researchers at the University of Michigan later formed a company to develop and market the laser for ophthalmic surgery, and he now serves as its medical director. His company, IntraLase Corp., funded his study.

    The laser was approved by the FDA in 2000 for LASIK surgery and been used on patients since 2001. Since then, some 50,000 procedures have been done at 50 refractive surgery clinics across the U.S.

    "Because of the technology, INTRALASE costs about $200 to $300 more than a traditional LASIK procedure," Kurtz tells WebMD.

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