Simply put, LASIK is amazing. It is an elegant procedure with astounding results and considered by many to be the single most successful elective surgery. LASIK or “laser assisted in situ keratomileusis” has been FDA approved in the US for over two decades. During that time, the technique has evolved to become incredibly safe and reliable. A computer guided femtosecond laser creates a small flap in the cornea, and an excimer laser (precise enough to write letters on a strand of human hair) reshapes the cornea. LASIK is far more precise at correcting nearsightedness and astigmatism than glasses or contact lenses. This form of refractive surgery has been extensively studied with thousands of articles published on its safety and excellent results.
Like other methods of refractive surgery, LASIK is designed to change the focus of the eye. The need to change the focus of the eye occurs when there are refractive errors traditionally called nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. These errors can be temporarily resolved with the use of glasses or contacts, or permanently resolved through refractive surgery. Recent studies have shown that refractive surgery is ultimately safer and healthier than the use of contact lenses.
Refractive error can be cured with refractive surgery. LASIK is the most well-known type of refractive surgery. It has a quick recovery and phenomenal visual results. Other types of refractive surgery include PRK, SMILE, implantable collamer lenses (ICLs), refractive lens exchange (RLE) and corneal inlays. Each technique is slightly unique and well suited for different eyes. The best way to determine which method is appropriate for you is to schedule a no-cost advanced ocular analysis at Waite Vision. Many individuals who have been told they are not a candidate for LASIK may indeed be good candidates for LASIK or another refractive surgical procedure. The following is a brief description of each procedure.
PRK or photorefractive keratectomy is essentially LASIK without a flap. The excimer laser is used to reshape the cornea after removal of the epithelium (the first layer of the cornea). The visual results are excellent and are comparable to LASIK however the visual recovery is slightly longer. The epithelium heals within a few days and takes time to completely smooth out. The healing process usually takes a few weeks to months for the best vision results. In select cases of patients with keratoconus, PRK can be used to improve the vision often in conjunction with corneal crosslinking, and corneal scars can often be treated with PRK to improve the vision.
SMILE or small incision lenticule extraction is a technique where a femtosecond laser is used to remove a small round lenticule of corneal tissue from the middle layers of the cornea. The procedure is performed through a small incision similar to the idea of laparoscopic surgery. The benefit is less healing time. The visual recovery is slightly slower than LASIK but the final visual result is excellent just like LASIK. SMILE is FDA approved to treat nearsightedness, but approval to treat astigmatism is on the horizon.
ICLs or implantable collamer lenses are flexible lenses designed specifically to fit inside the eye behind the iris and correct nearsightedness. They are safe, effective and give a phenomenal visual result. ICLs can give better vision than LASIK in very high prescriptions. For patients who are very nearsighted, this may be the best option for vision correction. The visual results are immediate and long lasting. ICLs are surgically removable and can be replaced or switched if needed. Currently in the US, ICLs are FDA approved to treat nearsightedness only.
Refractive Lens Exchange
The human lens is a marvel of nature. It allows for us to autofocus for near and far objects and everything in between. Around age 45, this autofocus starts to diminish resulting in a lens that is clear but dysfunctional. This leads to the need for reading glasses and bifocals. Replacing the dysfunctional lens with a crystal clear artificial lens can correct the refractive error and at the same time remove the need for bifocals or readers. The new lens lasts for life. There are different options for artificial intraocular lenses customizable to each eye.
Specifically designed to treat “after age 45 vision” or presbyopia, the Kamra inlay negates the need for readers and bifocals. The Kamra inlay functions using the “pinhole” effect making distance and near objects easier to see clearly. It is smaller and thinner than a contact lens and is placed in the cornea where it provides a natural range of vision. It only needs to be placed in one eye for best results.
If you are struggling to see clearly due to nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism, we encourage you to come by our practice and visit with our ophthalmologist , Dr. Aaron Waite. During your appointment, he can examine your eyes and help you know if LASIK or another refractive surgery procedure can help you regain clear vision. Call us today at 801-876-6000 to learn more, or click the button below to schedule your consultation.