There are a quite a few refractive eye surgeries out there. It can be difficult to narrow it down to the procedure you feel is best for you. It can also be confusing trying to sort out the differences between all of them. Here at Bellevue LASIK & Cataract, we feel it’s important for our patients to know about each refractive surgery option to ensure they make the best decision for themselves. So, how exactly does LASIK compare to other refractive surgeries?
What Is LASIK Surgery?
First things first, LASIK surgery is a popular refractive surgery that corrects vision problems like myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness) and astigmatism. The goal of LASIK surgery, like with other refractive surgeries, is to reshape the eye to allow for light to better focus on the retina. This makes vision more clear and reduces (or eliminates) your need for corrective lenses.
The LASIK Procedure
During LASIK surgery, your surgeon will create a detailed map of the surface of your cornea using wavefront technology. This type of LASIK is typically referred to as “custom bladeless LASIK.” There are multiple types of LASIK, but for the sake of this article, we will describe custom bladeless LASIK.
With the information from the wavefront technology (we use the WaveScan iDesign system), your doctor knows exactly which areas of the eye need correction for the best surgical outcomes.
The next step of LASIK surgery is to create the corneal flap. Here at Bellevue, we use a special laser called a femtosecond laser to achieve this. Using the femtosecond laser (we use the iFS IntraLase™ femtosecond laser), your surgeon will create a thin, circular flap on the surface of the cornea. This flap hinges back to expose the inner layers of the cornea for treatment.
The next step is the part that makes your vision clear – the reshaping. To reshape the cornea, your surgeon will use an excimer laser. Excimer lasers remove microscopic pieces of cornea tissue to achieve the perfect eye shape for you. The excimer laser we use here at Bellevue is the Visx S4 IR™ excimer laser, which integrates with the iDesign system and knows exactly where to treat.
Once the proper adjustments are made to the eye, the surgery is over! The flap is smoothed back into place and you’re sent home to recover. LASIK recovery is quick – many people are able to go back to work the very next day. Aside from going to follow-up appointments and using special eye drops for a few days, there’s not much to LASIK recovery.
LASIK Surgery vs. Other Refractive Procedures
LASIK surgery is considered the cream of the refractive surgery crop in the medical community. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t other good options! Many people choose LASIK for its convenience and effectiveness. However, not everyone is a candidate for LASIK surgery. So, for those who aren’t LASIK candidates, how do other procedures compare?
- LASIK vs. PRK
LASIK and PRK are actually very similar – but with one main difference. During PRK, instead of creating a corneal flap, the entire first layer of the cornea is removed. The rest of the procedure is the same. Recovery time with PRK is much longer and more uncomfortable, as the first layer of the cornea has to grow back. However, results are basically the same and the risk of flap complications after surgery is eliminated.
- LASIK vs. RLE
LASIK and RLE (refractive lens exchange) are very different procedures that aim to achieve the same thing. Instead of altering the shape of the cornea, RLE aims to switch out the natural lens for an IOL (intraocular lens). The procedure is the exact same as cataract surgery – the natural lens is simply removed from the eye and replaced with the artificial lens. Special artificial lenses can be implanted to correct a number of visual problems like myopia, hyperopia, astigmatism and even presbyopia! Recovery time is about the same, although glare and haloes are more likely after RLE.
- LASIK vs. ICLs
ICLs (implantable contact lenses) such as the Visian ICL are similar to contact lenses, except they are implanted into the cornea. These implantable lenses are great for people with severe nearsightedness who are not candidates for LASIK. The recovery time for this procedure is short, but may take a while to see full results as the eye adjusts to the lens.
As you can see, you have a lot of options when it comes to vision correction. These are only a few of the many! If you would like to see if LASIK surgery is right for you, consider scheduling an appointment with our experts here at Bellevue LASIK & Cataract. Our LASIK surgeons have a proven track record of success, and are eager to help you achieve the best vision of your life. Call our Bellevue or Monroe locations or contact us online to schedule your LASIK consultation today!