The Wavefront Hoax

LASIK marketing firms have responded to LASIK horror stories by planting stories in the press, touting wavefront (i.e. "custom LASIK") as a new and improved technology that eliminates surgical risk.  For an example of such marketing hype, see the story that appeared in Business Week in March 11, 2003:  WHY SETTLE FOR 20/20?  A new diagnostic tool and laser surgery promise eagle vision.

Unfortunately, medical journals reveal that wavefront is an immature technology that does not yet fulfill the promises made by marketers.

34 Challenges To Meet Before Excimer Laser Correction Can Achieve Super Vision -- Journal of Refractive Surgery, November/December 2002

Advances in excimer laser technology for use in refractive surgery opened the theoretical possibility of achieving "super vision" by adopting approaches known for many years to the optical engineering community.  But a question remains:  Can excimer laser technology alone achieve these goals now, or in the foreseeable future?  The current answer is clear:  Not yet.  We contend that even though excimer  laser technology brought to our attention many new aspects in optics, it cannot bring us to the promised land of super vision.  In correcting higher order aberrations, minor changes count.  Corneal surface changes must reach an accuracy of one micron; only one or two laser shots delivered in a slightly wrong position or incorrect timing will interfere with the desired result.  We need absolutely perfect procedures to achieve the results we want.  I present here 34 challenges that must be met before excimer laser corneal surgery can achieve visual acuity that is better than conventional spectacles, contact lenses, and traditional refractive surgery.

Challenges to Wavefront Correction -- September/October 2002 issue of the Journal of Refractive Surgery 

The debate on how best to use the abundance of data afforded by these two new technologies is far from settled.  In terms of refractive surgical procedures such as laser in situ keratomileusis (LASIK), the diagnostic utility of wavefront analysis in detailing sphero-cylindrical and higher order optical aberrations is unquestioned.  However, wavefront technology is unlikely to prove a refractive surgical panacea, just as corneal topography fell short of its expected performance.

Are you still not convinced that wavefront is really a marketing ploy?  Visit the SurgicalEyes.org forum where you can read stories of patients who have been damaged following wavefront LASIK, or read the comments of this doctor.

Dr. Dave Hartzok

Wavefront has been a topic on SE for as long as I have been on this BB.  Do a search and read the most recent postings about Wavefront. If it was so great you would hear it on SE first since it would be reported by SEers who are diligently looking for a fix.  As usual in all things surrounding refractive surgery, the reality does not live up to the marketing.  Many people have been waiting for some time.  Wavefront is the first thing offered to a patient failed by surgery.  Why is it so easy to believe in Wavefront when the first surgery failed your expectations? Hope springs eternal and marketing fills the void in technology.