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Contoura Vision Topography-Guided LASIK: The Difference

Contoura Vision is a topography-guided form of LASIK introduced by the company Alcon. It is the first of its kind to be approved by the FDA.

Contoura vision guided LASIK

Contoura LASIK is a more customized approach to refractive surgery, taking into account the unique topography of an individual’s eye and adjusting the procedure appropriately. This makes it more expensive but also safer and more likely to produce a high level of visual acuity. 

What Does Contoura Topography-Guided LASIK Do?

Contoura Vision is a fairly recent advance in LASIK introduced by the company Alcon in 2015. Like traditional LASIK, this procedure is used to treat refractive errors in the eyes, including hyperopia (farsightedness), myopia (nearsightedness), and astigmatism.

It is one of several high-end eye surgery options, using modern technology to customize a patient’s care and improve the likelihood of impressive results.

Who Is Contoura LASIK For?

Contoura LASIK can help more or less everyone that traditional LASIK can help. The prohibiting factor is cost. It is one of the more cutting-edge vision correction options, and it is priced accordingly. 

Insurance generally doesn’t cover LASIK procedures. As a result, some patients find Contoura LASIK too expensive and want to consider more affordable options instead.

Some doctors also argue the FDA is overly limiting on how the technology can be applied. In addition, the number of doctors who have mastered this technique is smaller than the number familiar with traditional LASIK techniques.

What Makes Contoura LASIK Unique?

This procedure is topography-guided, meaning the eye’s topography is mapped out ahead of time and used to provide a custom treatment that best fits the eye’s shape. In some cases, patients who have abnormal corneal surfaces can make use of this treatment even when their corneal shape means they cannot benefit from traditional LASIK. 

How Does It Work?

This procedure works by utilizing these methods:

  • Measuring and treating the aberration profile on the surface of the cornea
  • Centering on the apex of the cornea rather than the pupil as in traditional LASIK
  • Using the cornea’s unique shape to customize treatment and better minimize corneal aberrations

Like in traditional LASIK, a laser is used to reshape the eye. This helps light enter the eye in a way that better focuses it, helping the patient to see more clearly. 

While perfect vision isn’t guaranteed, the custom approach improves the chances of a high level of visual acuity. According to Alcon, 92.6 percent of eyes that underwent topography-guided LASIK ended up with at least 20/20 vision in the company’s U.S.-based clinical trials. 

While not everyone who undergoes this kind of treatment achieves a level of visual acuity higher than their current visual acuity when they wear corrective eyewear like glasses or contacts, a sizable minority do —about 30 percent, according to Alcon. Most of the other 70 percent still see improvements in their vision. They just might also achieve even better visual acuity with the help of further corrective measures.

Contoura Recovery & Aftercare

While the precision of this procedure may somewhat improve the recovery process, there isn’t much data on specific changes. Recovery from LASIK surgery is straightforward for most patients. Most people return to normal activities within a day or two.

During your recovery, avoid moderate or heavy physical activity until approved by your doctor. This can dislodge the flap created during your surgery and interfere with your recovery process. For similar reasons, you also must avoid touching or scratching your eyes. You may experience some itchiness and discomfort as your eyes heal.

You may get prescribed anti-inflammatory and/or antibiotic eye drops for the first week of your recovery. This helps to prevent complications in the healing process related to infection or swelling.

Most patients can expect significant improvement in their vision within one month. The final level of visual acuity will be achieved within about three months.

Contoura Vision Topography-Guided LASIK Risks & Complications

These are common risks of Contoura Vision and similar procedures:

  • Development of dry eye syndrome
  • Development of visual symptoms, such as glares and halos, which can sometimes be permanent
  • Infection
  • Swelling, which can lead to glaucoma

Serious errors or complications during your recovery can lead to a reduction in your visual acuity, although this is incredibly rare. 

Cost of Contoura Vision

LASIK eye surgery has a wide price range, with the price varying from $1,000 to $4,000 or more per eye. The customized Contoura Vision approach is one of the more expensive options, so patients should expect to pay on the high end of the cost spectrum.

This procedure uses more expensive technology and newer, more precise techniques. While trying to save on costs is understandable, be wary of any facility that is offering unusually low pricing for this advanced LASIK option. 

Insurance is unlikely to cover the full cost of this procedure, as LASIK is considered cosmetic. Some plans may cover part of the cost. Many vision insurance plans offer LASIK discount programs, which offer a percentage off with certain providers. 

Many surgery clinics offer payment plans to help patients pay the total cost of the surgery over time. This makes it easier for patients to afford the cost of Contoura Vision.

Wavefront vs. Contoura

One alternative to topography-guided Contoura LASIK is wavefront-optimized LASIK. This technology maps out the eye with a laser, producing a 3D image of the eye. 

The goal is similar to the topography-guided approach, where the produced map of the eye helps to customize the treatment. This results in better vision outcomes.

A comparative study of the two procedures showed that both procedures produced results within parameters that could be considered safe and effective, but the topography-guided approach seemed to produce fewer complications. Based on this study, most patients should opt for a topography-guided procedure. 

Talk to your eye surgeon about which LASIK approach will work best for your situation.

Contoura Vision Topography-Guided LASIK FAQs

Is Contoura LASIK better than traditional LASIK?

A Contoura LASIK procedure uses an advanced custom, topography-guided technique and equipment. It often provides better visual acuity results than standard LASIK; however, standard LASIK regularly helps patients achieve 20/20 vision.  

How much does Contoura Vision cost?

The cost of more advanced procedures like Contoura Vision varies, but you can expect to pay over $3,000 per eye. Insurance is unlikely to cover this cost, but payment plans may be available depending on the clinic you choose. Some third-party companies also offer loans at reasonable rates for these procedures.

Is Contoura the same as LASIK?

Contoura is an advanced form of LASIK that uses more sophisticated technology. 

How long does Contoura last?

The results of Contoura Vision are permanent. As with traditional LASIK, part of the cornea is removed.

References

  1. Alcon Introduces Contoura Vision as First Personalized LASIK Procedure at American Academy of Ophthalmology Annual Meeting. (November 2015). Alcon.

  2. The Finer Points of CONTOURA Vision. Cataract & Refractive Surgery Today.

  3. Topo-Guided LASIK in Refractive Practice. (February 2019). Review of Ophthalmology.

  4. LASIK. (March 2018). U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

  5. Topography-guided Versus Wavefront-optimized Laser In Situ Keratomileusis For Myopia: Surgical Outcomes. (July 2019). Journal of Cataract and Refractive Surgery.

  6. What Is Topography-Guided LASIK Eye Surgery? (November 2018). The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.

  7. Your Guide to LASIK. (August 2021). Forbes.

Last Updated May 23, 2022

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