INTRALASE, a femtosecond laser used to make the flap in LASIK’s first step, has gained market share over the past decade and is now used in the vast majority of US LASIK procedures. Femtosecond lasers replaced the older microkeratomes which housed an oscillating blade. Femtosecond procedures have increased dramatically in both Japan and the UK as well, where their use is similar to the usage in the US. The FDA gave approval to INTRALASE early in this decade and I have been using this device for approximately 7 years now. Over this time, I have become one of the most experienced INTRALASE users in the nation, as my surgical volume case load on these machines has been quite high.
Today, roughly 55 percent of all US laser centers have a femtosecond laser, and these lasers account for over 70 percent of all of the US LASIK Laser Vision Correction procedures done. These lasers allow improved biomechanics of the cornea following the procedure, and subsequently expands the percentage of patients that are deemed candidates for LASIK. They create a smaller footprint on the cornea than the older, bladed microkeratomes, and allow for rapid visual recovery. It is these issues that have driven the popularity of INTRALASE amongst LASIK surgeons, despite the higher expense associated with providing this procedure.