What Are My Options If LASIK Isn’t Right For Me?

Posted by: Missouri Eye Institute in Blog on May 18, 2021

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Many people get LASIK to reduce their need for glasses and contacts. However, you may not be a candidate for this surgery. Even if you’re not a good candidate for LASIK, you may qualify for another procedure instead.

Keep reading to learn about LASIK alternatives that you may be a better fit for instead!


PRK stands for photorefractive keratectomy. This laser vision correction procedure alters the shape of the cornea to address refractive errors.

The surgeon uses a laser to change the curves of the cornea to ensure light refracts toward the middle of the retina.

During PRK, you will receive numbing eye drops. Some people also get a mild sedative to help them relax.

First, the surgeon will remove the top layer of the cornea, called the epithelium. After removing the epithelium, they will use an excimer laser to reshape the cornea and correct refractive errors. 

Once the surgeon has reshaped the cornea, they will place a contact lens-like bandage over the cornea. This unique treatment encourages healing and prevents contact with debris and germs.

PRK takes several minutes to complete. You may be at the eye doctor’s office for an hour or so between intake and post-op observation. 

You won’t be able to drive yourself home, so make sure you have a friend or family member that can. You may notice better vision within 24 hours.

If you have thin corneal tissue, PRK may be a better option than LASIK to correct your sight. LASIK creates a corneal flap that can be dangerous for people with thinner tissue. 

The most significant difference between LASIK and PRK is there is no flap created during PRK. This makes it a good option for anyone that doesn’t qualify for LASIK due to having dry eyes, thin corneas, or large pupils.

Removing the epithelium can be a better option with fewer risks when the cornea is abnormally thin. 

Refractive Lens Exchange

Refractive Lens Exchange is also known as RLE or clear lens extraction. This procedure replaces the natural lens with an artificial one called an intraocular lens or IOL.

IOLs are made from silicone or acrylic and can take the place of prescription glasses.

This procedure is almost identical to cataract surgery. Instead of replacing a clouded lens, the surgeon is removing a clear lens.

During RLE, the optician applies numbing eye drops to prevent discomfort. You will have a sedative to ensure you are still and calm. 

The optical team places a femtosecond laser system that creates a tiny incision in the eye. The laser makes a small incision at the front of the lens, and an ultrasound probe breaks apart and removes the lens.

Your surgeon will fold the IOL and insert it, allowing the artificial lens to unfurl into place in your eye. They match up markings on the sides of the lens to ensure it is in place. IOLs are permanent.

You’ll need a ride home after having RLE. You may have minor discomfort and feel itchy while the eyes heal. Avoid rubbing them as contact can cause trauma.

Having the procedure takes 15 to 30 minutes. You’ll spend around an hour or two at your eye doctor’s office for pre-and post-op procedures. You can likely resume regular activity within a week.

People who cannot have LASIK but have presbyopia or extreme farsightedness may choose RLE. It is also an excellent fit for individuals over age 45 who use bifocal or multifocal glasses or contacts.

Are you wondering if LASIK or an alternative vision correction procedure could be right for you? Schedule an appointment with the experts at Missouri Eye Institute in Springfield, MO, today! 

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