When most people think of laser eye surgery, they think of LASIK. LASIK is the most popular vision correction surgery, but it isn’t the only one.
There’s no doubting LASIK’s popularity, but it’s not a procedure that’s right for everyone. While most people with a refractive error make good candidates for LASIK, some people don’t qualify for LASIK.
If you’re one of those people, never fear! There are alternatives to LASIK that you may qualify for. Keep reading to discover why you may be a candidate for a different laser eye surgery instead!
To have a vision correction procedure like LASIK, you need to:
- Be over 18
- Have a stable prescription
- Be in generally good health
- Have healthy eyes
These are only some of the requirements for getting LASIK.
But for LASIK, there’s another requirement. To safely undergo the vision correction procedure, your corneas must be a certain thickness. That means they can’t be too thin.
LASIK is a refractive laser eye surgery, meaning it uses lasers to change the shape of your cornea. By reshaping and changing the shape of the cornea, you can correct how light refracts through it.
But before the laser can reshape your cornea, your LASIK surgeon has to have access to the cornea. During LASIK, access to the cornea is given by creating a flap in the cornea.
After creating the flap, it’s lifted. Then a laser removes the corneal tissue underneath the flap following your specific refractive error. Once the LASIK procedure is over, the flap acts as a natural bandage. It not only protects your eye as it heals, but it also means you won’t need stitches or sutures after LASIK.
Your eyes may be perfectly healthy if your corneas are a little thin, but creating a flap is unsafe if they’re not thick enough. If you have LASIK and your corneas are too thin, it can lead to visual complications or other issues.
For this reason, your corneas must be thick enough to be a good candidate for LASIK. However, even if your corneas aren’t thick enough, there are other vision correction procedures that you may qualify for instead. These usually don’t require creating a flap, making them better suited to your needs.
PRK is a refractive laser eye procedure that’s very similar to LASIK. But the critical difference is that it doesn’t require creating a corneal flap.
Instead of making a flap, the outer layer surrounding the cornea, called the epithelium, is chemically removed. A laser is then used to shape the cornea directly.
After PRK, a bandage contact lens is placed over the eye to protect it while the epithelium regrows. Regrowing the epithelium is a process that takes a few weeks.
PRK can take longer to recover from than LASIK because of the technique used. However, outcomes from the surgery are comparable. Most patients end up with 20/20 vision or better!
EVO Visian ICL
While PRK is an excellent alternative to LASIK, it takes a little longer to recover from. But the EVO Visian ICL is less invasive and easier to recover from than procedures like LASIK.
The EVO Visian ICL acts like a permanent contact lens inserted directly into the eye. ICL stands for Implantable Collamer Lens.
The EVO Visian ICL is a lens made of collamer, a material derived from collagen. Collagen is a protein naturally produced by your body that helps your skin, joints, and bones work as they should.
Because it’s made of a biocompatible substance, the EVO Visian ICL comfortably integrates with the eye. Once it’s implanted, you won’t even be able to feel that it’s there. Nobody else will know it’s in your eye except for you!
The EVO Visian ICL is a good option for patients with thin corneas, but it’s also a good option for patients worried about dry eye. You need to have any dry eye symptoms under control before you can have any eye surgery.
However, you may still be prone to dry eye if you have a history of it. The EVO Visian ICL has a lower chance of causing post-surgical dry eye since it is minimally invasive.
You’ll have the ICL implanted through a tiny incision in the eye that quickly heals on its own with no need for stitches. Recovery is fast and easy!
The EVO Visian ICL is also the only reversible vision correction procedure. You can remove the lens at any time, though it is meant to be permanent.
Having this as an option can give you peace of mind if you’re nervous about permanently altering your vision. It is essential to know that the EVO Visian ICL can only correct nearsightedness and mild to moderate astigmatism.
LASIK and PRK can correct a considerable degree of astigmatism and farsightedness, so keep that in mind when choosing an alternative to LASIK.
Refractive Lens Exchange
If you have a refractive error and are over 45, you may not want to undergo a vision correction procedure that only corrects your refractive error. Most people develop presbyopia after age 40, which makes it harder to see up close.
You can have refractive laser eye surgery, but it won’t correct your presbyopia. But refractive lens exchange (RLE) can correct both during one procedure.
As you get older, your natural lens becomes less flexible, making it hard to focus your vision. RLE removes and replaces your natural lens with an intraocular lens (IOL).
There are different kinds of IOLs to choose from. Almost all IOLs and their design will correct presbyopia to some degree, along with refractive errors. RLE is nearly identical to another procedure: cataract surgery.
The only difference is that you get RLE when you don’t have cataracts. But if you get RLE, you never have to worry about getting cataracts, as cataracts can only form on your natural lens. If you’re over 45 and want vision correction surgery, RLE may be a terrific option, even if you don’t qualify for LASIK!
To learn more about LASIK and these alternative surgeries, schedule a consultation at New England Eye Center in Boston, MA, so we can help you find the best vision correction surgery for your needs! Isn’t it time to experience visual freedom for yourself?