Created on: February 17, 2013
In recent years, LASIK surgery has reached unprecedented heights in popularity. The success rates for glasses-free correction are astounding, and cost continues to drop even as efficiency and precision rise. LASIK has gotten so popular that it’s really the only corrective surgery you hear much about in the media and advertising. In fact, many people think that if they’re not candidates for LASIK, then that means that they can’t get corrective surgery for refractive errors, and just have to resign themselves to the continued use of glasses. However, there are a number of alternatives to LASIK that may still be an option for you even if you’re not a LASIK candidate.
Automated lamellar keratoplasty (ALK)
Similar to LASIK surgery, the process of automated lamellar keratoplasty (ALK) involves cutting a corneal flap with a microkeratome. Where LASIK would then re-shape the underlying tissues, ALK uses a microkeratome for the re-shaping procedure as well. This can be especially helpful in areas that don’t have access to an excimer laser, or that charge high premiums for the laser’s use.
Photorefractive keratectomy (PRK) is performed through an epithelial incision, with the subsequent removal of corneal tissue to affect the appropriate re-shaping. Unlike LASIK, PRK does not use a corneal flap. Instead, a contact-type bandage is placed over the eye after the surgery is complete in order to allow it to heal. While PRK does take longer to heal than LASIK, and can cause a little more discomfort, it is often the top choice for people whose cornea is too thin for LASIK.
With the LASEK procedure, the epithelium stays in place as much as possible. Using alcohol, the epithelium is lifted away from the cornea, and then the cornea is re-shaped using an excimer laser. The epithelium can then be replaced, acting as a natural bandage and eliminating the need for a bandage contact.
The customized trans-epithelial no-touch (C-TEN) procedure is a revolutionary bladeless procedure that doesn’t even touch the cornea in order to achieve access to the surface needing reshaped. This is similar to wavefront-assisted PRK or bladeless LASIK, except that it takes an approach through the epithelium instead of cutting the entire corneal flap. While the procedure can be considerably more expensive than LASIK, it is more versatile and can be used for a much wider range of vision errors.
Though there are several other refractive eye surgery options aside from LASIK, some have largely fallen out of use, while others are not readily available. These are among the most common alternatives to LASIK, with comparable or near-comparable success rates and results.
Learn more about this author, Rebecca Mikulin.
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