Most patients who are over the age of 21 and in good health with no other eye conditions or diseases are generally considered good candidates for LASIK. LASIK is approved by the FDA to treat a broad range of vision problems, including nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism. However, some people may not be good candidates for LASIK because of their unique visual imperfections or because of the results of a comprehensive eye examination. For those who do not qualify for LASIK, there are several LASIK alternatives available:
PRK – Photorefractive keratectomy (PRK) uses an excimer laser just like LASIK and provides comparable results. The main difference between PRK and LASIK is that in PRK there is no flap — only the very top (epithelial) layer of the cornea is removed (or moved aside) before the excimer laser reshapes the corneal tissue. After reshaping, a “bandage” soft contact lens is used to promote epithelial healing which takes about four days.
LASEK – A microsurgical instrument called a trephine is used to create a flap of epithelial corneal tissue then an alcohol solution is used to loosen the epithelial cells. Once the epithelial flap is created and moved aside, the procedure is the same as PRK. After corneal sculpting, the epithelial flap is repositioned and smoothed with a small spatula, then secured with a “bandage” soft contact lens to promote epithelial healing which takes about four days.
EpiLasik – A special microkeratome, the Epi-keratome, is used to precisely separate a very thin sheet of epithelial tissue from the cornea. This thin sheet is lifted to the side and the cornea is treated as with PRK. Then the thin sheet may be moved back into place to re-adhere to the cornea. A “bandage” soft contact lens is applied and used for about four days to help the epithelial layer heal.
Intraocular Lenses (IOLs) – IOLs are designed for people with high degrees of refractive errors that cannot be safely corrected with corneal-based refractive surgery. The IOL, sometimes referred to as an implantable contact lens, or ICL, is surgically implanted inside the eye in front of the eye’s natural lens. The eye’s natural lens is not removed, so patients can retain their pre-existing ability to focus. Once the IOL is properly positioned inside the eye, it provides the necessary correction to redirect light rays precisely onto the retina.