What is the best LASIK alternative?
Posted by: Clear Vision Cataract & LASIK Center
Dreaming of being free of glasses or contacts?
I can’t tell you how many times my patients have told me at the end of their eye exam how they wish they didn’t have to wear their “stupid glasses” or deal with their “annoying contacts”. While offering clear vision, their “ocular appliances” hinder their lives by fogging up, falling off, causing infections, requiring extra time, and hurt the monthly budget. Many of them have previously been evaluated for LASIK, but were told they weren’t a candidate for various reasons such as having too strong of a prescription, too thin corneas, or excessive dry eyes. As technology has advanced, we now have several equally-effective and safe vision correction options. While in times past, not being a candidate for LASIK meant the end of the road and a life of glasses and contacts, we now have excellent alternatives for those who many not have been a candidate in the past.
How do I know if I am a candidate for LASIK?
Laser vision correction has come a long way in the past 25 years since it was first approved. What began as a relatively rudimentary treatment, LASIK has advanced considerably with the 3rd and 4th generation lasers now available for LASIK in 2023. With evolving technology, laser vision correction is more precise, accurate, stable and safe than ever before. Newer, approved laser procedures include bladeless LASIK, small-incision LASIK (LALEX, Zeiss SMILE), and custom topography-guided LASIK. Despite its impeccable safety record, laser vision correction complications can still occur (less than 1% of cases), so it is critical that you have a comprehensive screening exam and testing prior to having any procedure to ensure your risk is as low as possible.
As we’ve learned more about how the eye heals after laser treatments, LASIK screening criteria are more stringent than ever before. At the Clear Vision Center in Rochester Hills, we have an extremely detailed LASIK screening process with advanced testing and examination by our surgeon. The screening includes a few non-invasive pictures, takes less than 10 minutes, and provides you with the answers you need. The most important part of this screening evaluation, our surgeon will personally consult with you to ensure you understand the balance of risks, benefits, and alternatives to LASIK. The good news, is that if you are a candidate for LASIK in 2023, you have outstanding odds for a successful visual outcome.
What are the best alternatives to LASIK?
Have you already had a screening exam and told you aren’t a candidate for LASIK? Are you concerned you might not want a laser vision procedure? The good news is that in 2023, you definitely have alternatives. Every person is unique, so we require a detailed screening exam to determine your “best-fit” procedure. Let’s review them one by one.
LASIK Alternative #1: Surface ablation / Photorefractive Keratectomy (PRK)
Surface ablation treatments have been around even longer than LASIK, which is a flap-based procedure. This option has the advantages of being effective for high prescriptions, avoids the flap which may be problematic for some professions/hobbies, retains the ability for custom treatments (Contoura), and may induce less dry eye. Surface ablation treatments have a wide prescription treatment range including nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. Limitations to surface ablation treatments include a longer visual recovery time compared to LASIK, and more discomfort in the first 3-4 days following the procedure. At Clear Vision Center, we offer the surface ablation alternative to LASIK, which may be a good option for you if you have dry eyes or are in a physically demanding profession.
LASIK Alternative #2: Small-incision LASIK (LALEX / SMILE)
Lenticule-based procedures (LALEX) such as Zeiss SMILE offer a different approach to laser vision correction. With LALEX/SMILE, a femtosecond laser creates a small disc of corneal tissue that the surgeon then carefully removes through a tiny incision. As the incision is much smaller than the LASIK flap, the LALEX / SMILE procedure offers a faster, more comfortable recovery process compared to LASIK. It may also be advantageous for those in high-impact, physically demanding professions, or for those who have mild dry eye syndrome. LALEX / SMILE can correct nearsightedness and nearsightedness with astigmatism, but it also has some limitations, as the range of correction is smaller than LASIK or PRK, and custom treatments are not available.
LASIK Alternative #3: Implantable Contact Lens (EVO ICL)
Up to this point, we’ve only discussed laser vision correction. While highly precise, laser correction isn’t for everybody, especially those with high myopia or thin corneas. Enter lens-based vision correction! If you are a candidate, a lens-based procedure such as the EVO ICL can correct those with a prescription of -3.00 to -20.00, including most astigmatism. In addition, those with thin corneas who can’t safely have LASIK may be excellent candidates for the EVO ICL. Rather than treating the cornea with laser, the surgeon carefully places the ICL behind your pupil. Unlike laser vision correction, the ICL is removable in the rare event of bothersome side effects or if complications occur. As the incisions are smaller than LASIK, most ICL patients do not experience chronic dry eye afterwards. The EVO ICL procedure is limited to higher nearsighted prescriptions, and is not approved for lower nearsighted prescriptions or farsightedness.
LASIK Alternative #4: Custom Lens Replacement
Custom lens replacement (CLR) or refractive lens exchange (RLE) is our final LASIK alternative. This option is typically designed for those 45 and older who never had LASIK and are suffering from dysfunctional lens syndrome (presbyopia). If someone has a high prescription and is now struggling to adapt to bifocal or progressive lenses, this option may be preferable to laser vision correction. By removing the dysfunctional lens and replacing it with an advanced artificial lens, we can not only provide LASIK-like distance vision without glasses, we can also restore reading/near vision as well. As this is a lens-based surgery, people with high prescriptions and thin corneas are frequently candidates for CLR/RLE, even if they were not a candidate for LASIK. Custom lens replacement has the additional benefit of preventing cataract development, meaning that after CLR/RLE you will never need cataract surgery in the future!
How do I know what vision correction option is best for me?
If you’ve read this far, you now know that there are four solid LASIK alternatives that can provide excellent results and glasses independence in the right candidate. So how do you make sense of all this and make a decision? Don’t worry, we have you covered! At Clear Vision Center, we offer every potential candidate a free (yes, really) initial consultation, including scans and a discussion with our experienced surgeon. At this no-obligation consultation, we will review everything with you and make a custom vision correction recommendation. As the only practice in Michigan offering all six vision correction procedures, we are in the unique position to make the recommendation that is best fit for you and your goals.