What are the other options?
If you're not a good candidate for LASIK surgery but you're still interested in vision-correction surgery, alternatives may include:
Photorefractive keratectomy (PRK). PRK is sometimes used for people who have a low to moderate degree of nearsightedness or farsightedness, those who have nearsightedness with astigmatism, or those who have farsightedness without astigmatism.
PRK removes the thin surface layer of the cornea (epithelium). The surgeon then uses a laser to flatten the cornea or make its curve steeper. It may take three to six months to reach peak visual improvement.
PRK has become less common as LASIK has gained favor, primarily because healing after LASIK is more predictable and usually involves less discomfort and scarring.
- Laser-assisted epithelial keratomileusis (LASEK). LASEK is similar to LASIK surgery, but the procedure allows the surgeon to remove less of the cornea, making it a good option for people who have thin corneas.
- People who play sports or have jobs that carry a high risk of eye injuries might also prefer LASEK because a thinner flap in the cornea means the cornea will be less vulnerable to serious damage should the flap be torn before it can heal.
Implantable lenses. Phakic intraocular lenses are implantable lenses that are surgically inserted in front of the natural lens to improve vision.
Implantable lenses can correct high degrees of nearsightedness not easily corrected by other surgical procedures.
The treatment is relatively new. Possible complications, such as cataracts, increased pressure within the eye and damage to the cornea over time, remain a concern.
- Bioptics. Bioptics combines one or more techniques, such as implantable lenses and LASIK, to treat nearsightedness or farsightedness.
Intracorneal ring segments. Intracorneal ring segments may sometimes be used to treat mild nearsightedness. A small incision is made in the cornea, and two crescent-shaped plastic rings are placed where the cornea joins the white part of the eye (sclera) on the cornea's outer edge.
The rings can flatten the cornea so that light rays focus more properly on the retina. If necessary, the rings can later be removed.
To make the most appropriate choice about refractive surgery, weigh the options, including the benefits and risks, with your eye doctor. Good results depend on careful evaluation of your eyes before the surgery as well as a clear understanding of the limitations of each procedure.