At a Moscow eye center today, several dozens of patients tested the action of the latest laser on themselves. Brought from Switzerland, this device makes sight improvement surgeries much less traumatic. The femtolazer – more perfected – is also now developed by physicists from Troitsk. Their device has already been called “laser scalpel”. In the future, it will be used not only in ophthalmology but also in other fields of medicine.
NTV correspondent, Sergey Malozemov, learnt how the new device works.
Muscovite Veronica had myopia (-4) a few seconds ago. Now, the disease is gone – the Leonardo Da Vinci laser made her sight sharp. The whole operation lasted for just seven minutes, no pain.
Veronica, a patient at Fyodorov Eye Microsurgery Complex – an interdisciplinary research and technical Complex: “It’s all very unusual. I feel like something little there pressing on my eyes, but it’s ok. All is well”.
There is very small probability that there will be complications. Without a femtosecond laser (in the whole of Russia, it can be found only at the Fyodorov center), the risk is ten times higher. After all, in most clinics, during operation, a special knife is first used to remove the top corneal layer, and then – deeper – laser burns a part of the cells, changing the curvature of the lens, which is the eye. Having achieved the desired visual acuity, the flap is put back into place.
Yuri Kishkin, Head of Refractive Laser Surgery Department, Fyodorov Eye Microsurgery Complex: There could be complications right from the very process of knife cutting, which is a mechanical procedure. This is not a very precise cut, it’s simply a wrong cutting”.
The new device is called laser scalpel because it plays the role of a knife. That which was experienced by Veronica is only the first application. Troitsk physicists teach the laser not only to cut the cornea with rays (the Swiss device can do that), but also to penetrate farther into tissue thickness.
In the picture made by laser inside a glass, the rays were focused such that they don’t leave marks on the surface of the glass cube, but rather burn a pattern inside. Developers of the new laser want to do the same inside the human eye. Accuracy, however, should be about over 30 times higher.
The word “Femto” means “one quadrillionth of a second”. That’s the duration of a flash. The main secret hides in this briefness. The burn doesn’t have enough time to appear as cells in the incision area just evaporate.
Konstantin Lapshin, project manager, Femtosecond laser keratome, Physics Instrumentation Center, Prokhorov General Physics Institute: “When you are doing radiation using such a laser, you can get a sort of a mini nuclear reaction by focusing this radiation into the matter”.
Khristo Takhchidi, Director General, Fyodorov Eye Microsurgery Complex: “The body doesn’t even feel that a trauma was caused, so it doesn’t react to trauma with its traditional inflammatory response. That is, the biological mechanisms of the body are deceived”.
In recent years, the most part of domestic eye lasers working throughout the country has been created in Troitsk. The staff at the Physics Instrumentation Center started together with Svyatoslav Fyodorov.
By the end of this year, scientists promise to complete the testing of Russia’s first femtosecond laser. The laser will not only be cheaper, but also “smarter” than imported ones. Corneal transplantation, and in the future cataract treatment and all other complex surgeries, will become easy like cosmetic procedures.
Konstantin Lapshin, project manager, Femtosecond laser keratome, Physics Instrumentation Center, Prokhorov General Physics Institute: “We’re going to use the laser on rabbit eyes before applying it on humans”.
The authors are trying to avoid sounding very ambitious, but they have no doubt that if everything succeeds, then clinics across the country will be able to afford the cheap new device. What this means for thousands of patients is that the world will become brighter and more colorful.