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Laser Surgery - Excimer Laser

The Excimer laser is the instrument used today in the majority of refractive surgical procedures. The two commonly performed surgical procedures utilizing the Excimer laser are photorefractive keratectomy (PRK) and laser assisted in-situ keratomileusis (LASIK). These procedures are detailed below.

The Excimer laser has been used for PRK procedures since 1987, and was FDA approved for PRK in 1995. Certain Excimer lasers have been FDA approved for LASIK. The laser itself is a cold (non-heat generating) laser, which allows precise removal of tissue (for reshaping the corneal surface) without thermal damaging effects to adjacent tissue. The Excimer laser is an extraordinarily precise laser, which sculpts the surface of the cornea using invisible, high-energy wavelengths of light. The central cornea may thus be made either steeper or flatter depending on pre-existing refractive error. One may think of the Excimer laser as an instrument capable of reshaping the cornea in a fashion similar to that of placing a contact lens permanently on the cornea.

The precision of the Excimer laser is demonstrated with its ability to remove just 0.25 microns of tissue in a single pulse; that is, 1/200th of a human hair or 39 millionths of an inch in just 12 billionths of a second!

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