LASIK is a vision correcting procedure that help patients be glasses free. LASIK can be performed quickly (usually 15 to 20 minutes for both eyes), and patients are seeing much more clearly within 1 day of the surgery. However, it is not the only option to being glasses free. Here are some LASIK alternatives.
PRK surgery is also a vision correcting procedure but it has a larger range of patients that it can be used on. Some patients who are not candidates for LASIK may be candidates for PRK surgery. There is also less dry eye following PRK surgery when compared to LASIK. However, it is important to note that recovery from PRK surgery is usually much longer than LASIK. This is the biggest downside to PRK surgery. Most LASIK patients are in mild, if any, discomfort for just a few hours. The discomfort or pain with PRK can last days to weeks. Long term, however, the benefits of less dry eye with PRK may out weight the temporary post operative pain. This is a personal decision and should be made in discussion with your eye surgeon.
SMILE Eye Surgery
SMILE eye surgery was approved by the FDA as a surgical procedure in 2018. It was used before this in Europe for several years. SMILE eye surgery is another way to correct vision. The procedure is typically longer than LASIK so you need to able to stay still and stay calm for a couple minutes longer. But,it is important to note that both LASIK and SMILE are fast procedures. It is likely that SMILE surgery is less disruptive to the corneal nerves. Because of this, dry eye may be less in patients who have SMILE surgery than the dry eye patients who have LASIK experience. In LASIK, a flap is created. This is not the case in SMILE. Because there is no flap, there is no risk of flap associated complications. For patients who play contact sports, this may be beneficial since flap disruption from trauma can happen to patients who have LASIK.
Daily Contact Lenses
If you are not a fan of glasses, daily contact lenses can be a great option. The convenience of being able to put in a fresh pair each day is loved by many patients. Additionally, because you are putting in a new pair each day, you are less likely to experience dry eye or contact lens intolerance.
Clear Lens Extraction
A clear lens extraction implies cataract surgery without the presence of a cataract. A cataract is the natural aging of the lens of your eye. When a cataract is taken out, the ophthalmic surgeon will place an artificial lens in the eye. In many cases, this artificial lens will correct for distance vision. In some patients, a clear lens can be taken out and replaced with an artificial lens that corrects the refractive error of the eye.
Related: Are You Awake During Lasik?
LASIK Alternatives: Summary
LASIK is a popular choice for vision correction. There are alternatives to LASIK and they include PRK, SMILE eye surgery, daily contact lenses, and clear lens extraction. Talk to your ophthalmologist about which options may be a good choice for you.
Sambhi RS, Sambhi GDS, Mather R, Malvankar-Mehta MS. Dry eye after refractive surgery: a meta-analysis.Can J Ophthalmol. 2020;55(2):99-106.
Lim EWL, Lim L. Review of Laser Vision Correction (LASIK, PRK and SMILE) with Simultaneous Accelerated Corneal Crosslinking – Long-term Results.Curr Eye Res. 2019;44(11):1171-1180.