What is LASIK Xtra? Everything you need to know

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What is LASIK Xtra?

LASIK Xtra is a combination of the traditional Laser-assisted insitu keratomileusis (LASIK) surgery with a corneal cross-linking treatment where the cornea is further strengthened using Riboflavin (Vitamin B2) and Ultraviolet (UV) light. This allows the collagen fibrils in the cornea to form strong chemical bonds with adjacent fibrils, thus reducing the risks of complications such as corneal ectasia where the cornea weakens and distorts over time.

The aim of this procedure is to provide the vision correction benefits of LASIK while also reducing the potential risks associated with thin corneas, higher refractive errors, and with pre-existing corneal conditions.

It is important to note that LASIK Xtra is a specialized procedure that may not be widely suitable for all individuals. An ophthalmologist who specializes in refractive surgery can evaluate an individual’s specific condition and determine if LASIK Xtra is an appropriate treatment option.

The procedure of LASIK Xtra

During the pre-operative evaluation, patient will undergo a comprehensive eye examination to assess their eye health, vision prescription, corneal thickness, and any other factors that may affect the procedure’s suitability. The ophthalmologist will also do a thorough examination of the eyes before advising if the patient is suitable to proceed for surgery.

Before the LASIK Xtra procedure, numbing eye drops are applied to ensure patient’s comfort by reducing any pain or discomfort during the procedure.

The surgeon will create a corneal flap and gently lift it back to expose the underlying corneal tissue, where laser ablation will then remove the microscopic amounts of tissue based on the patient’s refractive error. This alters the cornea’s curvature to correct their prescription.

After the cornea has been reshaped, riboflavin (Vitamin B2) eye drops which enhances the corneal cross-linking process will be applied to the cornea’s surface. The cornea will then be exposed to ultraviolet light that will activate the riboflavin, thus initiating the cross-linking reaction. This creates a stronger bond within the corneal collagen fibres, enhancing the cornea’s strength and stability.

Once the cross-linking treatment is complete, the eye doctor will carefully reposition the corneal flap back into its original position, allowing it to naturally adhere back. It is important to note that the exact steps and techniques involved in LASIK Xtra may vary slightly depending on the surgeon and the specific equipment used. Patients will be provided with specific instructions for post-operative care, encompassing the use of prescribed eye drops and the necessary precautions to promote healing and minimize the risk of complications.

When is LASIK Xtra required?

LASIK Xtra is usually recommended in situations where additional corneal stability is desired or when there are concerns about the thickness or integrity of the cornea. Patients with corneas thinner than average may be more susceptible to complications like
corneal ectasia.

Combining corneal cross-linking with LASIK, the procedure aims to enhance the cornea’s strength and reduce the risk of postoperative complications. Patients with above-average refractive error would benefit from collagen cross-linking. With
better stability and predictability of the refractive correction, this can reduce the risk of regression.

Collagen cross-linking vs LASIK Xtra – what’s the difference?

The primary goal of collagen cross-linking is to strengthen the cornea in cases of progressive corneal disorders such as keratoconus or corneal ectasia. This involves the application of riboflavin drops to the cornea and followed by exposure to ultraviolet light. The process promotes the formation of stronger collagen cross-links with the corneal tissue. It does not address the patient’s prescription and they will likely still rely on glasses after the surgery.

LASIK Xtra is a combination of LASIK surgery, which can correct a patient’s prescription and help them achieve glasses’ independence and corneal cross-linking. The purpose of collagen cross-linking is to enhance the stability and strength of the cornea during LASIK surgery.

Thin cornea treatment

When dealing with thinner corneas, there are several treatment options available to address specific conditions or improve corneal strength.

  • Corneal cross-linking: a procedure designed to strengthen the cornea and halt the
    progression of conditions such as keratoconus or corneal ectasia. This procedure
    involves the application of riboflavin (Vitamin B2) eye drops to the cornea, followed
    by exposure to ultraviolet light. In doing so, it promotes the formation of stronger
    collagen cross-links within the corneal tissue, thus improving its stability and
    preventing further thinning.
  • Implantable Collamer Lens: Patients with thin corneas who are not suitable
    candidates for corneal refractive surgery may consider Implantable Collamer Lens
    (ICL) surgery to obtain a good visual outcome without altering the corneal shape or
  • Refractive Lens Exchange: It is a surgical procedure where the eye’s natural lens is
    replaced with an intraocular lens implant (IOL) and it is akin to a cataract surgery.
    The IOL can correct myopia, hyperopia, astigmatism, and even presbyopia – allowing
    patients to achieve glasses independence for both distance and near vision.