5 Best Alternatives to LASIK

LASIK is a popular option for people who don’t want to depend on wearing glasses or contact lenses for clear vision, however there are many alternatives to LASIK so it’s important to know the available options in order to choose the best method for you.

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LASIK tends to be a very well known kind of laser eye surgery, however there are many alternatives, including different types of refractive surgeries. There are specific factors which are crucial in order to qualify for LASIK surgery which means that it is not a suitable option for everyone. In addition, the method for this kind of surgery involves forming a flap in the cornea which is the clear part that covers the surface of the eye and plays an essential role in our visual system. This flap has advantages, in addition to disadvantages. Thankfully, there are a variety of other options available for refractive surgeries so that each person can weigh out the benefits and risks to figure out the best approach for their vision and lifestyle. A brief overview of alternatives to LASIK is provided below, but please schedule an appointment with your eye doctor to discuss the possibilities in depth. Together you can figure out which method is best for you, for your health, and for your eyesight.

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Alternative to LASIK #1: Orthokeratology (Ortho K)

Before exploring the multitude of alternatives to LASIK, it’s crucial to note that a non-surgical alternative to LASIK exists, providing a significant advantage as it's neither permanent nor invasive. Ortho K, one such popular alternative to LASIK, employs special lenses that progressively reshape the cornea as they're worn overnight. This prime alternative to LASIK allows the wearer to enjoy clear vision throughout the day without the need for glasses or contact lenses. Learn more about orthokeratology here.

Alternative to LASIK #2: Photorefractive Keratectomy (PRK)

While discussing alternatives to LASIK, PRK stands out as a prominent option. This alternative to LASIK, like LASIK itself, employs a laser for reshaping the cornea, but each targets a different corneal layer. PRK, hence, proves suitable for those with thin corneas who are not eligible for LASIK. Unlike LASIK, PRK doesn't create a flap in the cornea, marking it as a safer alternative to LASIK for those leading active lifestyles. PRK involves a longer healing period, with full healing usually taking about a month.

Alternative to LASIK #3: Implantable Contact Lens (ICL)

Alternative to LASIK #3: Implantable Contact Lens (ICL)

Another viable alternative to LASIK is the Implantable Contact Lens (ICL). Unlike traditional contact lenses that sit on the surface of the eye, ICL is surgically implanted inside the eye, offering a long-term solution to refractive errors. This alternative to LASIK is particularly useful for those with high levels of myopia, thin corneas, or dry eyes, who may not be suitable candidates for LASIK.

Alternative to LASIK #4: Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE)

RLE is a further effective alternative to LASIK. This procedure involves replacing the eye's natural lens with an artificial one to correct the refractive error. Often chosen as an alternative to LASIK for patients over 40 with presbyopia or high hyperopia, RLE offers the added benefit of preventing cataracts, as the lens inserted is immune to the condition.

Navigating through these alternatives to LASIK can seem overwhelming, but the guidance of an eye care professional can simplify the process considerably. Don't hesitate to schedule a consultation with your eye doctor. Your eye doctor will walk you through each alternative to LASIK, helping you choose the option best tailored to your unique needs and lifestyle.

Alternative to LASIK #5: Intraocular Lens Implants (IOL)

Alternative to LASIK #5: Intraocular Lens Implants (IOL)

Exploring the wide range of alternatives to LASIK brings us to Intraocular Lens Implants (IOL). This procedure is typically used for cataract surgery, but in recent years it's also emerged as a promising alternative to LASIK. IOL involves replacing the eye's natural lens with an artificial one, much like RLE. However, IOL provides various lens options, including monofocal, multifocal, and accommodative lenses, each offering different benefits. This diverse alternative to LASIK is particularly advantageous for those suffering from presbyopia and cataracts, providing an effective solution to both.

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Candidacy For Alternatives to LASIK

Candidacy For Alternatives to LASIK

Here's a brief list of ideal candidates for each alternative to LASIK:

Orthokeratology (Ortho K)

  • People with mild to moderate myopia (nearsightedness).
  • Those not eligible for LASIK due to age, thin corneas, or other health issues.
  • Individuals not ready for or comfortable with eye surgery.

Photorefractive Keratectomy (PRK)

  • Those with thin corneas unsuitable for LASIK.
  • Individuals leading active lifestyles or jobs that might risk dislodging a LASIK flap.
  • People with higher refractive errors.

Implantable Contact Lens (ICL)

  • Individuals with moderate to high myopia (nearsightedness) or hyperopia (farsightedness).
  • Patients with thin corneas or dry eyes who are not suitable for LASIK.
  • Those aged between 21 and 45 years.

Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE)

  • Individuals over 40 with presbyopia or high hyperopia.
  • Patients looking for a permanent solution to refractive errors and willing to avoid potential cataract surgery in the future.
  • Those who are not good candidates for LASIK, PRK, or ICL due to lens clarity or high refractive errors.

Intraocular Lens Implants (IOL)

  • Those suffering from presbyopia and cataracts.
  • Patients requiring precise vision correction that's personalized to their needs.
  • Individuals who are not suitable candidates for LASIK or other refractive surgeries.

Please note that these are general guidelines. The exact candidacy for each alternative to LASIK can vary based on individual eye health, lifestyle, and other factors. Therefore, a thorough consultation with our eye care professional is crucial.

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Common Questions

Depends. If you got LASIK to correct your distance vision, you may need to wear contact lenses again once you reach presbyopia. Presbyopia is a normal part of age processing that starts around age 40-50 resulting in near vision blur. Thus you would need reading glasses/contacts to help you see clearly up close. Additionally, the front part of your eye is flattened after LASIK, so your eye doctor will have to choose a contact lens with a flatter curvature to properly fit on your eye.
The answer is yes and no. If your goal is to stay out of glasses and contacts throughout the day then there is an alternative called ortho-keratalogy (ortho-K) hard contact lenses. These are specialty lenses that are custom designed for you to sleep with at night; the lenses gently applies pressure and reshape your cornea (the front curvature of your eye) to safely and gently improve your vision, such that when you wake up in the morning and remove the lenses you’re able to see clearly without any correction throughout the day. However, the difference between LASIK and ortho-K is that ortho-K is not permanent, you have to wear the ortho-K lenses every night or else your cornea will go back to its original shape. Talk to your eye doctor to see which treatment you’re a better candidate for.
To see clearly after LASIK, it takes only a few days or less, whereas for PRK, it takes about a month. As long as the procedure is done by a licensed, experienced surgeon, the results should be the same. When it comes to recommendations about any surgical procedure it is important to consult our optometrist to determine what procedure would be best for you and receive a referral to a recommended eye surgeon. A PRK procedure leaves no flap on your cornea, making it safer and more effective in the long run. LASIK leaves behind a flap that in rare cases may sustain greater damage if the eye is injured.
5 Best Alternatives to LASIK
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LASIK is a wonderful option for refractive surgery, but every procedure comes with its benefits and risks. There are other methods for refractive surgery and non-surgical options, available for those who are not qualified to get LASIK for various reasons.

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