Your Path to Vision Correction: LASIK and Its Alternatives

Posted by: Missouri Eye Institute in Blog on January 22, 2024

LASIK surgery has become a household name, synonymous with quick and effective vision correction. However, it’s important to remember that LASIK isn’t the only choice open to you. If you’ve been told you’re not a candidate for LASIK, you have strong options.

In this article, we’ll explore LASIK and delve into three alternatives available at Missouri Eye Institute: Photorefractive Keratectomy (PRK), Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE) and Implantable Collamer Lenses (ICL). Each has unique benefits for different vision needs.

LASIK Overview

LASIK, or Laser-Assisted In Situ Keratomileusis, is a popular refractive surgery that reshapes the cornea to correct vision issues such as myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness) and astigmatism. The procedure is known for rapid recovery times, low complication rates and immediate improvement in vision. 

During LASIK, a surgeon creates a thin flap in the cornea and uses a laser to reshape the underlying corneal tissue. The flap is replaced and heals without the need for stitches.

While LASIK is considered by many to be a gold standard for permanent vision correction, not everyone is a good candidate. To qualify, you need to have a stable prescription, sufficient corneal thickness, and be free from certain eye conditions. For those who aren’t ideal candidates for LASIK or may prefer a different procedure, Missouri Eye offers these alternatives:

1. PRK: The Surface Approach

Like LASIK, Photorefractive Keratectomy, or PRK, corrects vision by reshaping the cornea with a laser. The key difference is that with PRK the surgeon removes the outer layer of the cornea, the epithelium, before laser treatment, rather than creating a corneal flap. The epithelium regenerates on its own over time.

PRK is an excellent option for patients with thinner corneas or those who engage in contact sports. The final visual outcomes of PRK are comparable to those of LASIK, though the recovery period can take longer relative to recovery from LASIK.

2. RLE: Reading Vision Solutions Beyond the Cornea

Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE) takes a different approach by replacing the eye’s natural lens rather than altering the cornea. This procedure is quite similar to cataract surgery, in which the cataract-affected lens is removed and replaced with an artificial intraocular lens (IOL). RLE can be a solution for those with presbyopia (“over-40 vision”) or high refractive errors that may not be suitable for corneal-based procedures.

RLE offers the advantage of correcting vision at multiple distances, reducing the need for glasses or contact lenses. It’s also a permanent solution that eliminates the possibility of developing cataracts in the future.

3. Evo ICL: The Permanent Contact Lens

A third option is the EVO Implantable Collamer Lens (also called implantable contact lenses), or ICL, which is an alternative to LASIK and PRK. Instead of removing or reshaping eye tissue, a biocompatible lens is implanted behind the iris and in front of the natural lens. This lens helps focus light correctly onto the retina.

ICLs are particularly beneficial for patients with high prescriptions and those with thin corneas. The procedure is reversible, and the implanted lens can be replaced or removed if necessary. Recovery is quick, and many patients report excellent vision soon after the procedure. The procedure is well-established and boasts a strong safety profile.

In the quest for clear vision, it’s essential to consider all available options. LASIK has proven to be a transformative procedure for many, but it’s not a universal solution. Alternatives like PRK, RLE and ICL offer viable pathways for those who may not be ideal candidates for LASIK. Each option has its advantages and considerations, and the decision should be made in consultation with a qualified ophthalmologist who can assess individual needs and guide patients toward the best choice for their eyes.

Missouri Eye Institute has helped thousands of patients attain freedom from glasses and contact lenses. Contact us at (800) 383-3831 to schedule a vision correction consultation or visit to learn more about our services.


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