When people think about correcting their vision with lasers, the first thing that comes to mind is LASIK. LASIK is by far the most popular form of laser vision correction, but it is not the only one! Despite its popularity, not everyone is actually a candidate for LASIK. So, what are your other options? Let’s discuss the most common types of laser vision correction and why they may be right for you.
What Is LASIK?
LASIK is a popular form of laser vision correction that corrects myopia, hyperopia, and astigmatism. During this procedure, the surgeon creates a thin, hinged flap on the surface of the cornea using a femtosecond laser. This flap is then lifted to expose the inner layers of the cornea. Next, the surgeon will use an excimer laser to remove microscopic amounts of corneal tissue and reshape the eye. There are no stitches required after LASIK. Once the eye is reshaped, light is able to focus on the retina and vision becomes more clear. LASIK is popular because of its short recovery time and high success rates.
What Is PRK?
PRK is the predecessor to LASIK surgery, and although it is still widely used and regarded as safe, it is not as popular as LASIK. During PRK, the surgeon will remove the thin first layer of the cornea (the epithelium) using an alcohol solution and “buffing” device. Once the epithelium has been removed, the surgeon will reshape the cornea using an excimer laser. Once finished, a protective healing contact lens “bandage” will be placed over the cornea. This lens bandage will promote healing and protect the eye while the epithelium grows back.
PRK is not as popular as LASIK because of it’s longer healing period, but the results are generally very similar to that of LASIK.
What Is LASEK?
LASEK is a lot like a mix between LASIK and PRK. Instead of creating the thicker corneal flap like during LASIK, your surgeon will create a very thin flap and loosen the tissue with an alcohol solution. The flap is then moved out of the way, and the eye is reshaped with an excimer laser. Once the proper adjustments have been made, a bandage contact lens will be placed over the eye.
What Is RLE?
RLE, which stands for refractive lens exchange, is very different from the other options listed here. Instead of reshaping the cornea, the aim of RLE is to replace the eye’s natural lens with an artificial one. The natural lens, located behind the iris and pupil, can be removed and replaced with a lens that can correct refractive errors. This procedure is exactly like cataract surgery, except you do not have to have cataracts to get it. RLE is great for people with myopia, hyperopia, astigmatism and even presbyopia! RLE is generally recommended for people who cannot undergo corneal refractive correction procedures.
Which one of these procedures is best for you? Well, to find out, you’ll need to schedule a consultation! To schedule a LASIK consultation at the Santa Monica Eye Medical Group, give us a call today.