A femto future?

November 1, 2008

The act of collaboration is generally regarded positively. Uniting two parties that share a common interest usually yields achievements that could not have been possible if either party went at it alone, and so the whole becomes greater than the sum of the parts.

The act of collaboration is generally regarded positively. Uniting two parties that share a common interest usually yields achievements that could not have been possible if either party went at it alone, and so the whole becomes greater than the sum of the parts.

Certainly, this was the thinking behind Schwind and Bausch & Lomb’s recent strategic moves, which resulted in collaborations with established femtosecond laser manufacturers for the two firms. Both companies had already cemented their reputation in the laser refractive surgery market, although one key ingredient was missing from both: the technology that has created a big buzz around the ophthalmology community - the femtosecond laser. The all-LASIK solution that both Schwind and Bausch & Lomb are now able to offer is something that many surgeons and even patients are now requesting.

Despite its growing popularity, the jury is still out on whether femtosecond technology is in fact a must for all refractive surgeons. While many ophthalmologists think that femtosecond technology is the decade’s most significant technological breakthrough, there are those who remain at best undecided and, at the more extreme end of the spectrum, even downright cynical. Particularly in the practice of laser refractive surgery, is a femtosecond laser really such an improvement over a mechanical microkeratome? Some believe not.

Whether refractive surgeons have signed up to the femtosecond fan club or not, today’s refractive surgery practice needs to appear to be at the forefront of technology in order to keep pace in this hugely competitive market. Because of the strong marketing messages and effective advertising campaigns transmitted by some refractive clinics, particularly in the US and Europe, it seems that in order to be, or to be perceived to be, “at the forefront of innovation”, today’s refractive surgery practice needs to jump on the femtosecond bandwagon. Coupled with the expanding indications now being assessed for this technology, there is no way for the femtosecond technology market to go in the next few years other than up.

Best wishes,

Fedra PavlouEditorfpavlou@advanstar.com