It’s common for people to hear the words ‘laser eye surgery’ and think only ‘LASIK’. While LASIK is by far ‘king’ of laser eye surgery as we know it, there are a multitude of other extremely safe and effective options available today.
Before we get into the options for laser eye surgery and some of the factors that determine their suitability for different candidates, it is helpful to explain the stages of human vision development and how it factors into your choice for surgery.
Stages of Human Vision Development:
- Ocular Maturity
Ocular maturity is the first stage of human vision development and hallmarked by the stability of refraction. By the time most reach the age of 18 or 20, your eyes stop growing and your prescription (refraction) stabilizes. This means your prescription hasn’t changed within the last 12 months.
This next stage typically occurs around age 40. The first signs are the inability to reach smaller print (like a newspaper) or your smartphone correctly. Presbyopia is a completely natural and unavoidable condition that affects nearly everyone at some point. It occurs when you eye’s lens loses flexibility, which makes focusing on objects up close more difficult.
The third milestone occurs when our eyes begin to develop cataracts. Cataracts occur when proteins in our eye’s lens begin to clump together, causing it to cloud and blur vision.
Options for Laser Eye Surgery
During a LASIK procedure, your surgeon corrects your vision by creating a small corneal flap and then reshaping the surface of your cornea. In order to receive LASIK, you must have hit ocular maturity. It is ideal for pre-presbyopic patients, but can also help patients with presbyopia. Monovision LASIK is a special form of LASIK which helps reduce the effects of presbyopia. Monovision LASIK will correct the distance vision of your dominant eye and then makes the other eye nearsighted.
SMILE is the newest form of laser eye surgery. SMILE combines the safety of traditional vision correction techniques like PRK and LASIK with even greater comfort and potentially greater precision. Similar to LASIK, you must have hit ocular maturity to receive SMILE.
SMILE is a great alternative for those who have been previously disqualified from LASIK candidacy predisposition to dry eye or risk of flap trauma (ex: Boxers, Ultimate Fighting Champions, etc). Unfortunately, SMILE is not yet approved to treat astigmatism.
Before there was LASIK, there was PRK. PRK has identical outcomes to LASIK. The vast majority of patients who receive PRK get 20/20 vision without glasses or contacts. PRK is a better alternative to LASIK for many patients who have thin or irregularly shaped corneas, who have too low a prescription for Visian ICL (described next).
It is safe, effective, and a great option to treat nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. Similar to LASIK, you surgeon could suggest monovision PRK to treat presbyopia.
Implantable Contact Lens – Visian ICL
Approved by the FDA in December 2005, the Visian ICL is an implantable contact lens made of a biocompatible material called collamer that allows the lens to be rolled into a tiny cylinder for insertion into the eye. As the lens is inserted, it gently unfolds behind the iris, where it remains virtually undetectable to an observer. The ICL treatment is performed in the office on both eyes on the same day, just like LASIK.
The Visian ICL can provide clear vision for nearsighted patients who are not good candidates for LASIK due to thin or irregular corneas, dry eye or patients looking for the best quality of vision.
Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE)
A Refractive Lens Exchange procedure removes the eye’s lens and replaces it with an intraocular lens to correct vision. Refractive Lens Exchange is a good procedure for people who are nearsighted or farsighted, people with early cataract formation, and individuals who want to treat presbyopia with a multifocal implant. For some patients, especially those who are over age 50 with prescriptions outside the range of LASIK, SMILE or PRK, RLE can be a great laser vision correction alternative.
Which Procedure is Right for You?
Your surgeon is the only person who can determine which of these procedures are right for you. The expert professionals at Dougherty Laser Vision are ready to help answer any questions and guide you towards your path to better vision. To get started, call one of our locations or schedule a complimentary consultation online today.