LASIK is the most recognized name in laser eye surgery to correct refractive errors. LASIK surgery is a revolutionary treatment that eliminates the need to wear prescription eyeglasses or contact lenses by fixing issues associated with nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. Since its approval by the Food and Drug Administration in 1999, LASIK, laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis, has only continued to improve and is considered one of the safest and most successful laser eye surgeries available today. Top reasons to get LASIK include better vision, cost effectiveness, instant results, and quick recovery.
Is there a better procedure than LASIK? While not all eye surgeries are created equal, neither are the patients who qualify for them. Patients with presbyopia, significantly high prescriptions, or those with very thin corneas may be disqualified from receiving LASIK. Alternative options to LASIK include photorefractive keratectomy (PRK), laser epithelial keratomileusis (LASEK), small incision lenticule extraction (SMILE), intraocular lens implants (IOL), phakic intraocular lens implants, also known as implantable collamer lens (ICL), and refractive lens exchange (RLE).
PRK surgery is often thought to be the top alternative to LASIK.; however, the main difference is that LASIK requires making a cut in the cornea and creating a flap while PRK treats the surface of the cornea by removing a thin layer of epithelial cells; PRK can have a longer recovery because there is no flap to cover the eye as it heals. Benefits of PRK include a high success rate, better vision, low risk of long-term complications as no flap is created during surgery, and ideal for thin corneas. PRK is a great option for patients with thin corneas and those who are prone to dry eyes.
LASEK is like LASIK and PRK. During the procedure, the epithelium is removed and softened with a diluted alcohol solution and then folded back. The cornea is shaped with the excimer laser and the epithelial flap is then replaced and held by a contact lens during healing. It is similar to PRK although PRK removes the epithelial layer altogether while LASEK is thought to be an improved version of PRK where the surgeon slides the epithelial layer over and then slides it back after the cornea is sculpted.
SMILE utilizes a femtosecond laser which differentiates this procedure from the previous three3, where an excimer laser is used. The laser cuts a disc-shaped piece known as a lenticule within the cornea. The surgeon makes an incision and pulls out the lenticule thereby reshaping the cornea. Candidacy for SMILE requires greater parameters than other laser eye surgeries. These include having nearsightedness between-1 and-10, as well as up to 0.5 diopters of astigmatism.
IOLs are artificial lens implants that are inserted into the eyes to replace the natural lens. Although more common to treat cataracts, IOLs can repair refractive errors especially for patients with severe myopia and patients whose monovision contacts are not providing sufficiently clear vision. If a patient’s prescription is too high for any laser eye surgery, ICLs may be a good option. The phakic procedure involves placing implantable contact lenses behind the iris and in front of the natural lens to correct refractive errors. The added benefit of this procedure is that because it is not a laser surgery it is reversible at any time.
The best procedure is the one that fits you. To find out if you are a candidate for LASIK or which alternative will work to correct your vision, call Rosenbaum Eye and Laser Center at 517-393-2020 for your eye exam or fill out our appointment form at WEBSITE.