Intralase SBK Technique vs. LASIK in Ottawa: Which Is Better?

If you’re weighing your options for the best refractive surgery for your situation, you may have heard about one of the most exciting recent developments in the field of Laser Vision Correction: Intralase SBK.

SBK stands for Sub-Bowman’s Keratomileusis, named after the superficial layer of corneal tissue (known as Bowman’s membrane) that is used to access the cornea.

Quickly, it has become one of the safest, most popular procedures for refractive errors and represents an improvement over LASIK surgery.

But, before delving into the specifics of how Intralase SBK compares to LASIK, a quick primer on the development of LASIK and why it became so popular.

The Development of LASIK Surgery

When LASIK became the most well-known and widespread type of refractive surgery at the tail end of the 20th century, the benefits over the previous dominant procedure, PRK (photorefractive keratectomy), were heralded by many.

And, when you understand the difference between the two procedures, you can appreciate some of the reasons why.

While both surgeries use an excimer laser to reshape the cornea, it’s the method that a surgeon uses to access the cornea that differs. With PRK, the outer, epithelial layer of the cornea is completely removed, and the eye regenerates this layer of tissue over time. On the other hand, with LASIK, a flap is created in the corneal tissue and, once the excimer laser is used, the flap is replaced over the eye. The flap acts as a natural bandage, healing the cornea much quicker than PRK.

As you can imagine, recovery time is substantially less with LASIK, which is one of the reasons why the procedure has now been performed over 28 million times worldwide as of 2009.

Enter a New & Improved LASIK: Intralase SBK

While the flap method dramatically improved refractive procedures in terms of painlessness, recovery time, and sensitivity to light, it could cause its own problems, including infection. There are also a number of cases where, after a LASIK procedure, the flap became dislodged and caused complications.

It also meant that certain patients, particularly those with thin corneas, didn’t qualify for LASIK and were left to deal with the option of PRK.

Ultimately, the idea behind Intralase SBK was to improve the way in which the flap is created, making it a positive, groundbreaking iteration of the LASIK procedure.

The way the LASIK flap is created differs among each LASIK clinic. Some still create the flap using a blade – called a microkeratome or mechanical blade – to create a flap in the cornea. With all Intralase SBK procedures, a laser called a femtosecond laser is used, which is a cool-beam laser that uses highly advanced, computer technology to quickly and painlessly create the flap in the cornea.

The significant difference between LASIK and Intralase SBK is that the flap created during the SBK procedure is much thinner and smaller in diameter than the flap created during LASIK, which maintains corneal structural integrity while improving recovery time and lessening the chances of complications arising later.

Is Intralase SBK Better than LASIK?

In a word, yes.

Between PRK, LASIK, and Intralase SBK, Intralase SBK is the newest and most advanced procedure, and also the safest. Many refractive surgeons view it as a best of both worlds scenario, in which you get the convenience and quick recovery time of LASIK along with the safety of PRK.

In addition, many patients who are unable to receive LASIK because of the thinness of their corneal tissue might still qualify for Intralase SBK.

While some might argue that there is still the issue of the complications that can come with a corneal flap, there is no question that Intralase SBK is far superior to LASIK procedurally in that regard.

Because the depth of the flap made in the cornea is much more shallow, it reduces the chance of the flap dislodging or becoming infected as happens sometimes with LASIK (particularly if you are outdoorsy or involved in any kind of contact sports).

Altogether, this means that SBK has a number of benefits over LASIK, including:

  • It results in fewer complications then LASIK, including fewer cases of dry eye.
  • Eyes are less sensitive to light after Intralase SBK compared to LASIK.
  • There is a lesser chance of serious complications.

Of course, only an examination and discussion with a surgeon can ultimately determine which refractive procedure is best for your eyes, so we encourage you to get in touch to set up an appointment.

Get in Touch with Focus Eye Centre Today

If you have further questions about Intralase SBK vs. LASIK in Ottawa and Calgary, or you are ready to determine which is the right procedure for you, get in touch today to set up an appointment with one of our team members. You can fill out our online contact form or call one of our four locations to speak to someone today.