Using Wavefront Technology
Did you know that technology originally developed and used in the construction of the Hubble Telescope has been applied to vision correction? Ophthalmologists and space scientists worked hard to evolve wavefront technology to the point where it could improve vision. Wavefront technology, first developed in 1978 by Josef Bille, Ph.D., director of the Institute for Applied Physics at the University of Heidelberg, was initially called adaptive optics. Adaptive optics allowed astronomers to see distant stars with the Hubble Space Telescope. The main objective of this technology was to remove visual distortion or aberrations from the atmosphere allowing scientists to more precisely view images.
Since the advent of wavefront technology into the field of ophthalmology many patients have benefited from the technological breakthrough. The main issue that wavefront technology addresses is aberrations. Aberrations can be separated into two categories HIGH and LOW. Low order aberrations are the familiar sphere and cylinder of myopia, hyperopia, and astigmatism, measured through refraction and denoted by diopters on your prescription. This is precisely what conventional LASIK was aiming to correct. Higher order aberrations such as trefoil, coma, and other similarly unfamiliar terms cannot be measured with a standard refraction. Instead, they are measured with an instrument called an aberrometer. The aberrometer measures the total amount of aberrations in the eye, including the refraction, and then transforms this complex data into a wavefront map. Aberrometer findings are transferred and then loaded into the excimer laser for treatment. The laser ablation pattern to improve your vision is derived from the total set of aberrations.
Wavefront technology has been commercially applied to the field of vision correction and has been branded by companies under names like CustomVue, LadarWave, and Zyoptix. Most ophthalmologists refer to LASIK with wavefront technology as Custom LASIK. Custom LASIK allows the doctor to tailor the LASIK procedure to each individual eye and potentially improve upon the already excellent results available from the conventional procedure. This next generation technique uses wavefront technology to measure the entire eye and create a “three-dimensional” map. The map contains detailed optical information that is unique to each eye, much like a fingerprint is unique to each individual. The doctor uses this information to guide the laser in customizing the treatment to the eye’s particular visual irregularities. While conventional LASIK corrects refractive errors known as lower-order aberrations (myopia, hyperopia and astigmatism) that affect how much we can see, Custom LASIK also has the potential to improve higher-order aberrations (coma, spherical aberration, and others) that affect how well we can see.
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