The femtosecond laser is the most dramatic breakthrough seen in corneal transplant surgery in the past decade. The laser allows the surgeon to focus the laser energy at a particular depth and then rapidly cut the tissue at that depth without causing any additional injury to the surrounding tissue.
The Femtosecond laser also allows the surgeon to pattern these cuts into shapes (often referred to as mushroom, top hat or zig zag) creating a highly precise incision resulting in a perfect match of the donor tissue and the patient and a stronger junction.
While most traditional cornea transplants provide the patient with a clear cornea, it usually takes 6 to 12 months for patients to recover good vision, and even then glasses and or contact lens are often required. Sutures typically remain in place for a year or more because the cornea is slow to heal. The traditional transplant remains a “weak spot”, vulnerable to injury for the remainder of the patient’s life. With the femtosecond laser procedure the precisely shaped incision heals faster allowing more rapid suture removal and heals stronger, minimizing the risk of subsequent injury.
Listen to comments from Dr. Roger Steinert, the UC Irvine ophthalmologist who pioneered this surgical technique.