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Alternate Procedures to LASIK Surgery

Some days it may seem that LASIK Surgery is the only surgery available for people wanting to improve their vision or lifestyle. But while LASIK is the most well-known refractive procedure utilized today, not everyone qualifies. And, for that matter, LASIK is not always the best option for patients looking to reduce their use of eyeglasses or contact lenses. The good news is there are plenty of alternatives for patients in both cases.

Many of these alternate strategies are available due to the patient's inability to qualify for standard LASIK. People with thin corneas, higher order aberrations and presbyopia, to name a few vision issues, wouldn't qualify for LASIK. But they do qualify for procedures other than LASIK.

Some procedures, like Conductive Keroplasty (CK) or Refractive Lens Exchange are different altogether from LASIK, while others like WaveFront Custom, PRK, Epi-LASEK and LASEK are similar to LASIK with slight differences, most often involving the formation of the flap. While these procedures aren't nearly as popular as LASIK, they don't take a backseat to LASIK in rate of success or importance.

What these alternate refractive procedures do is cast a wider net for patients looking to minimize their use of eyeglasses and contact lenses or to improve their vision. Patients not able to qualify for LASIK should discuss with their ophthalmologist any of the alternate procedures listed below. For most people if LASIK isn't possible one of these should be.

Procedure Qualifications Process Concerns
WaveFront Custom LASIK Same as LASIK, except higher order aberrations accepted Same as LASIK, except using WaveFront Diagnostics for mapping of cornea and guiding ablation. Limitations for people with thin corneas and large pupils. Cost is higher than standard LASIK
Conductive Keroplasty For people with hyperopia and presbyopia Uses radiofrequency to change curvature of cornea No major concerns, as eyes age there may be a need for retreatment
PRK More inclusive than LASIK, especially for people with thinner corneas No flap is cut, the cornea is sculpted without cutting a flap Some pain and a longer process for your sight to stabilize
LASEK Similar to PRK Flap is created using a thin blade and an alcohol solution More pain than LASIK and a longer recovery time
Epi-LASEK Similar to PRK Flap is created using a plastic blade, ablation is the same as standard LASIK Similar pain and recovery time to LASEK
Refractive Lens Exchange People over 50 with farsightedness, nearsightedness, or in the early stages of cataracts Incision on the side of the cornea, old lens is removed, new lens is implanted Infection and insufficient visual response are the most likely complications
Phakic Intraocular Lens Similar to LASIK, including people with extreme myopia A small incision on the side of your eye and the lens is implanted in front of or behind your iris Mild discomfort. Unstable vision for a few weeks.
Monovision This procedure is for people with presbyopia Much like LASIK, except your dominant eye won't be touched Pain and recovery are similar to LASIK, expect 6-8 weeks before a patient's vision stabilizes.

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