Commonly referred to as laser eye surgery, LASIK (laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis) is a popular choice for patients hoping to improve the quality of their vision. Each day, hundreds of Houston residents seek LASIK for their vision needs. Yet, for those unable or unwilling to have LASIK, a range of alternative procedures are available.
What Conditions Does LASIK Treat?
Laser eye surgery is often recommended for the treatment of eye conditions, such as hyperopia (farsightedness), myopia (nearsightedness), astigmatism (a defect or irregularity in the cornea), or different combinations of these.
What Does LASIK Involve?
LASIK is performed by a specialist eye doctor, or ophthalmologist, like Dr. Goosey in Houston. The surgeon cuts a small, circular flap in the cornea (or lens) of the eye, and then uses a specialized laser to reshape the cornea and improve vision.
Despite Its Success, LASIK Isn’t for Everyone
LASIK is not for everyone, and satisfaction is not universal. Some are simply not good candidates for the surgery. The FDA notes people with a refractive instability (including children and teens), and people with a range of health conditions may be excluded from having the surgery because it may not work for them.
There is also a risk of both complications and surgical failure. A meta-analysis (conducted by the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery) of 3000 peer-reviewed articles found 95.4% of patients remained satisfied with their surgery after ten years. However, there were a few poor outcomes. These included, in some cases, a permanently reduced quality of vision.
Alternatives to Conventional LASIK
An alternative refractive eye treatment is wave front-guided LASIK. This method uses computer imaging and detailed mapping of a patient’s eye to guide the laser. Studies have shown Wave Front-Guided LASIK is safer and more effective at restoring vision (particularly for myopia) than traditional laser eye therapy.
Another major alternative is Wave Front-Guided Photorefractive Keratectomy (PRK). This procedure uses a laser to correct vision, but excludes the part of the procedure that cuts a surgical flap into the cornea, reducing infection risk. Instead, only a tiny portion of the epithelial (top) layer of the cornea is moved or removed. Studies show this can improve vision outcomes.
Some newer procedures have improved on PRK’s success. LASEK (Laser Epithelial Keratomileusis) changes the initial stage of PRK by using a highly specialized micro-surgical instrument to create a flap of corneal tissue. EpiLasik utilizes a thin sheet of epithelial tissue then, after treating the eye in the same way as PRK, uses a special contact lens to assist the eye to heal.
Conductive Keratoplasty (CK) is a thermal refractive procedure. This process uses radio frequency waves to carefully shrink the cornea, improving its curvature, and it can be used for mild hyperopia in people over 40.
Another possibility for treatment is the use of implantable lenses, such as Phakic Intraocular Lenses (IOLs). These are placed behind the iris of the eye to improve vision. Refractive Lens Exchange (or Clear Lens Extraction) is a new off-label method which replaces the lens of the eye with an artificial lens.
When considering refractive therapies, you should consult with Houston’s premier eye surgeon, Dr. John Goosey. His professional team can recommend the best LASIK alternatives to suit your vision needs. Call today!