LASIK is an effective surgical procedure to lessen or eliminate your dependency on glasses or contact lenses. However, other types of eye surgeries are available to treat certain vision problems. It is important to remember that each of these LASIK alternatives is specific to a certain group of patients and may not be appropriate in your particular situation. These include:
- PRK (photorefractive keratectomy)
- Intracorneal rings
- Phakic intraocular lenses
- Refractive lensectomy
- RK (radial keratotomy)
- AK (astigmatic keratotomy)
Another alternative is to simply continue wearing your glasses or contact lenses.
PRK (Photorefractive Keratectomy)
PRK is a laser procedure used to treat some of the same conditions as LASIK. It is an option for people whose corneas are too thin for LASIK, or whose eyelids are too narrow for the microkeratome to be placed. Instead of making a flap in the cornea, PRK actually removes the top layer of the cornea, called the epithelium, and the laser is used to reshape the eye.
Because no flap is created, PRK does not have any possible flap complications. However, PRK does carry a higher risk of haze or scarring; for people who need a greater correction, sometimes original successful results can decrease over time. PRK also requires a longer recovery period, usually 7 to 10 days, and patients may experience more discomfort during healing.
Placing intracorneal rings into your cornea is a procedure to correct low levels of nearsightedness or myopia. This surgical procedure does not correct astigmatism or farsightedness (also called hyperopia), and can only be used in patients with small pupils.
Phakic Intraocular Lenses
Phakic intraocular lenses (or phakic IOL) are a good option for patients who are very nearsighted or very farsighted. In this procedure, a permanent corrective lens is placed inside the eye. These implantable contact lenses are fairly new, so the long-term results from this procedure are not yet available.
Refractive lensectomy involves removing the natural lens in the eye and replacing it with a plastic lens. This procedure is essentially the same as that done for older patients who develop a cataract, which is a clouding of the natural lens. In both situations, patients elect to have the lens implant to improve their vision and decrease their dependency on glasses. Refractive lensectomy is used especially for cases of high myopia and high hyperopia. It is a relatively complex procedure, as it involves going into the eye, and has a different set of potentialcomplications, including:
- Bleeding and infection inside the eye
- Retinal detachment
- Other potential serious problems
RK and AK
RK is an incisional procedure for nearsightedness. This is an older procedure that can produce very good results, but it has lost popularity due to the fluctuations patients experience in their vision after the procedure. Compared to PRK and LASIK, the outcomes are generally less reliable.
AK is a procedure to correct astigmatism, and is sometimes performed along with other eye surgeries, such as cataract surgery and LASIK. In AK, incisions are made in the outside part of the cornea to correct astigmatism. Because of the location of the incisions, AK provides a correction of astigmatism in most cases without fluctuations in vision. There are very specific requirements to be a candidate for AK, which our optometrists can discuss with you.