Bladeless vs. Blade LASIK — Which Option Is Best?

April 6th, 2018
doctor consulting patient

Bladeless LASIK isn’t necessarily better than its blade counterpart — the course of treatment for you depends on your unique condition and personal preferences.

Those unfamiliar with LASIK might be surprised to discover that there isn’t one single type of LASIK surgery. While it’s historically been performed with a bladed instrument, LASIK can also be conducted without blades altogether. Whether you’re stuck between choosing bladeless vs. blade LASIK, the first thing you should know is both options are safe.

This isn’t to say that bladeless LASIK is better, however. While they rely on different instruments, traditional blade LASIK is just as safe as its bladeless alternative, and it provides patients with the same results. Indeed, each approach offers certain advantages that can make it better suited to particular patients. We’ll outline some of these distinctions below to help you decide which form of LASIK is best for you.

What is the difference between bladeless and blade LASIK?

As the names suggest, the main differences between bladeless and blade LASIK are primarily related to the instruments used in each procedure. Blade LASIK is performed using a specialized tool called a microkeratome — a precision surgical instrument with an oscillating blade — that cuts a thin, hinged flap in the cornea. The surgeon then lifts the flap and applies a laser to the exposed area to reshape the cornea, correcting any refractive errors in the process.

Bladeless LASIK is a more recent technique that was first introduced in 1999 and approved by the FDA in 2007. This procedure is largely the same as traditional LASIK, but instead of creating a flap with a microkeratome, the surgeon uses a particular type of high-energy laser — a femtosecond laser — to alter the shape of the cornea.

Is one better than the other?

Bladeless and blade LASIK are among the safest and most reliable elective surgeries available, providing patients with crystal clear vision for years — even decades after their procedures.

The primary advantages of traditional, blade LASIK are speed and comfort. Microkeratomes enable surgeons to operate much more quickly, resulting in a better experience for many patients. Traditional LASIK also requires less suction than bladeless surgery, with most surgeons needing only three seconds of suction to perform it. In contrast, bladeless LASIK requires 15 to 20 seconds of suction.

The greatest benefit of bladeless LASIK is the heightened control it offers surgeons. While bladeless and blade LASIK are both extremely safe, bladeless LASIK further reduces the risk of flap complications like buttonholes (or improperly formed flaps). As a result, it’s particularly well-suited to patients with particularly sensitive eyes or unusually severe refractive errors that need to be treated with greater precision

In the hands of an experienced surgeon, however, bladeless and blade LASIK alike are lasting solutions to common vision problems. The only way to truly decide between them is by visiting an eye care professional and discussing your condition. Here at Swagel Wooten Eye Institute, we offer a complimentary consultation to ensure that you receive the best, most personalized care possible. Call us today at 480-641-3937 or visit us online to schedule your free consultation at our Mesa or Chandler locations!