LASIK eye surgery is the most popular type of vision correction because it can effectively treat a wide range of refractive disorders. However, it is not the right treatment for every patient. Approximately 25% of people who want LASIK are not good candidates for the procedure. For some, their corneas are too flat or too thin. For others, their vision problems are too extreme to be corrected by LASIK. Fortunately, there are other laser-eye surgery options for those who do not qualify for LASIK and still wish to ditch their glasses or contacts.
Alternatives to LASIK include:
Photorefractive keratectomy – PRK is similar to LASIK in that a laser is used to reshape the cornea and change its focus. Instead of being performed under a flap like LASIK, it’s done on the surface of the cornea.
Clear Lens Extraction – CLE involves removing the natural lens from the eye and implanting a lens that permanently corrects any optical errors, offering a full range of near and far vision without the need for glasses.
LASEK – For people with very flat and/or thin corneas, LASEK is a suitable alternative to LASIK. Rather than using a blade or a laser, this procedure uses an alcohol solution to soften the outer layer, allowing it to be peeled back and exposing the tissue underneath. As with LASIK, a laser is then used to reshape the inner corneal tissue.
EpiLasik – Like LASEK, Epi-LASIK is a less invasive alternative to LASIK. A special microkeratome, the Epi-keratome, is used to precisely separate a very thin sheet of epithelial tissue from the cornea. This thin sheet is lifted to the side and the cornea is treated as with PRK. Then the thin sheet is moved back into place to re-adhere to the cornea. A “bandage” soft contact lens is applied and used for about four days to help the epithelial layer heal.