LASIK surgery is not appropriate for everyone. During the extensive, two-hour eye exam Eye Surgeons provides for all patients considering LASIK, our doctors may discover issues, such as very thin corneas or extremely high prescription errors, that may make LASIK surgery the wrong treatment for you. Luckily, there are some other procedures our doctors can recommend that can help give you the vision you’ve always dreamed of, without relying on glasses and contact lenses.
Photorefractive Keratectomy (PRK)
Photorefractive keratectomy, or PRK, is often used as an alternative to LASIK when a patient’s cornea, or clear, front part of the eye, is too thin. During PRK, our surgeons use the VISX CustomVue™ Wavefront Laser to sculpt the cornea, just as they would do for a LASIK patient. The primary difference between PRK and LASIK is that no flap is created during PRK, because of corneal thinness. For more information on PRK, please view the following video:
While LASIK patients often report clear, improved vision as early as the day after surgery, it may be a few days before vision stabilizes for PRK patients, due to a longer healing time. Once the cornea is healed, however, PRK patients are as happy with their new vision as LASIK patients.
Drs. Lohman and Jones were among the first in the country to implant the Verisyse and Visian ICLs after the lenses received FDA approval for the treatment of extreme nearsightedness and astigmatism. These ICLs are best used in patients who are under the age of 45 and are highly nearsighted.
The Verisyse procedure involves implanting a lens on top of the iris and behind the cornea. This implant provides an additional lens to offer high-definition vision. The natural crystalline lens is left in the eye to allow the eye to adjust for both near vision and distance. This lens can also treat varying levels of astigmatism.
The Visian ICL functions like a contact lens to correct nearsightedness but instead of sitting on the surface of the eye, it works from inside the eye. These clear lenses are placed behind the iris and in front of the natural lens to permanently correct nearsightedness. However, the lenses can be removed if vision needs change over time. As an added benefit, these implants provide protection from harmful UV rays as well.
Refractive Lens Exchange (Clear Lens Extraction)
Those patients over age 45 or with early stage cataracts may choose to undergo Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE) surgery instead of LASIK. During RLE, an artificial lens is used to replace your eye’s natural lens in order to improve vision. The procedure is performed much like cataract surgery.
RLE is also an option for patients who are too farsighted to undergo LASIK.
RLE patients may wish to have our surgeons implant a specialty or accommodative lens during surgery so that they can reduce or eliminate their need for glasses and contacts for both distance and near vision. For more information on these specialty lenses, please click here to read about Lifestyle Cataract Surgery.
These lenses allow the ability to focus at all distances.
Some people who have early stage cataracts may choose to have RLE instead of waiting for their cataracts to progress to the point where they should be removed. This is because the lens implants generally provide them with better uncorrected vision at that point, particularly if they currently need vision correction.
RLE may also be an option for people with severe hyperopia (farsightedness), for whom LASIK is not recommended.