With the recent FDA approvals of the Vuity eye drop for presbyopia and the EVO Visian ICL, patients have even more options for reducing their dependence on glasses and contacts. Contact lens intolerance can cause significant chronic eye dryness and irritation, but many patients are still hesitant to proceed with laser vision correction such as LASIK. Some are ready to take the leap with LASIK and experience the benefits of vision correction, but are not a candidate for laser vision correction due to thin corneas. Other highly-motivated patients have a "high-impact" profession or hobby, and are concerned about the risk of LASIK flap dislocation and would like a vision correction option that is a better fit for their lifestyle.
What are the non-LASIK options for permanent vision correction?
Fortunately, through years of technological advances, there are several options to permanently correct your vision that avoid the LASIK flap, or even avoid laser vision correction altogether. For those who meet the criteria for LASIK, but are concerned about the corneal flap it creates, there are many safe and effective alternatives. For patients under 45 years old, the tried and true PRK procedure changes the shape and power of the eye via a surface ablation that does not require a flap. PRK treatments can be customized to minimize post-operative symptoms and is still a very accurate procedure. The newer, small incision lenticule extraction (SMILE) procedure, involves a small, laser-created incision with surgical removal of a thin corneal layer called a lenticule. While limited to those with myopia, it can offer similar vision results to LASIK, albeit with a much smaller incision and less risk of post-operative dry eye.
In addition to the laser-based procedures, there are lens-based procedures that can also correct your vision, but without the added risks of dry eye, and in many cases with even better visual results. For those between 20-45, the EVO ICL involves placement of a customized, thin lens behind the pupil. This is made of a safe, biocompatible collagen polymer that also filters UV light. The EVO ICL is also completely removable, unlike laser vision procedures, giving you the flexibility to go back to your glasses and contacts in the rare situation that you are not happy with the visual results from the EVO ICL. Patients with the EVO ICL have some of the most satisfactory results of all patients!
Finally, for those over age 45, we offer lens replacement procedure, otherwise known as refractive lens exchange (RLE). With RLE, the eye's natural lens is removed and replaced with an advanced technology intraocular lens (IOL) such as the Vivity or PanOptix lens. These lenses can correct myopia, hyperopia, astigmatism and presbyopia with minimal side effects or down time. This option is particularly popular with those who have high degrees of myopia with thin corneas, who were never a good candidate for LASIK, and now are experiencing the loss of near vision (presbyopia) when wearing their glasses or contacts.
To summarize, LASIK remains a safe and effective vision correction procedure for hundreds of thousands of people each year. Despite its key role in vision correction, a number of alternatives exist that offer benefits of reduced dry eyes, absence of a corneal flap, reversibility, and correction of presbyopia. If you think LASIK or one of its alternatives may be a good option for you, contact us today to schedule a free refractive consultation with Dr. Vrabec.