The screening process for prospective LASIK candidates is very selective and not everyone is considered a suitable candidate for the laser eye surgery. If it turns out that you do not qualify for LASIK eye surgery, it is a good idea for you to explore alternative treatment options with Dr. Domenic C. Izzo, Jr., of Berks Eye Physicians and Surgeons. He offers several different types of vision correction, including photorefractive keratectomy (PRK) and refractive lens exchange.
Photorefractive keratectomy, or PRK, is actually the predecessor to LASIK surgery. It is still used safely and successfully to reduce or eliminate dependence on glasses or contact lenses.
Much like LASIK, the PRK procedure involves reshaping the corneal tissue with a laser to correct the refractive error causing nearsightedness, farsightedness and/or astigmatism. The key difference is that unlike LASIK, PRK does not require creating a flap of tissue in the surface of the cornea prior to laser correction. Instead, the outer layer of corneal cells is simply removed and naturally regenerates after surgery.
PRK Recovery Time
Because the outer layer of corneal cells needs to grow back after surgery, the recovery process can be slightly longer and more uncomfortable than it is with traditional LASIK. Patients wear a bandage contact lens for two to three days after surgery to protect the eyes while they heal. Side effects like itchiness or mild discomfort are common during this time, and usually dissipate quickly.
Benefits of PRK
For the right candidates, PRK produces excellent outcomes equal to LASIK. It reduces some of the risks of LASIK because there is no chance of a complication affecting the healing corneal flap. Because of this, PRK might be a good option for individuals that play contact sports or are in the armed services and at risk of dislodging or injuring a healing flap.
Am I a Good Candidate for PRK?
You may be well suited to PRK if you want LASIK but do not qualify because you have thin corneas or corneal shape issues, or if you are at significant risk for trauma.
Refractive Lens Exchange
Refractive lens exchange, or RLE, replaces the eye’s natural lens with an artificial lens implant to improve visual clarity. The lens cannot be felt inside the eye and is permanent. The refractive lens exchange procedure is similar to cataract surgery, except the natural lens is clear and not cloudy due to cataracts at the time of surgery. Refractive lens exchange, like cataract surgery, can correct nearsightedness (myopia), farsightedness (hyperopia), astigmatism and presbyopia (the need for bifocals and reading glasses in people over the age of 45).
RLE Recovery Time
The recovery time after RLE is similar to that after LASIK. Patients resume most normal activities, including working, a day or two after surgery.
Benefits of Refractive Lens Exchange
- Good for individuals that do not qualify for LASIK or PRK
- Variety of artificial lenses to choose from
- Short procedure with minimal recovery downtime
- Serious complications are rare
Am I a Candidate for Refractive Lens Exchange?
You may be a good candidate for refractive lens exchange if you have moderate to severe hyperopia (farsightedness) or are starting to experience a change in vision due to age-related changes in the eye like presbyopia or early signs of cataracts.
Learn More about LASIK Alternatives
If you do not qualify for traditional LASIK or if you are interested in the alternatives, Dr. Izzo is happy to discuss your options with you during your free consultation.