Refractive surgery refers to a group of procedures that can be performed in order to correct for refractive error. That means these surgical options can eliminate the need for visual correction such as glasses or contact lenses. While LASIK is the most common method of refractive surgery, several other options exist. If you have considered undergoing refractive surgery yourself in order to experience a life without glasses or contact lenses, continue reading to learn more about surgical options.
LASIK is the most commonly performed refractive surgery, with millions of people undergoing to procedure since it was approved over 20 years ago. During LASIK surgery, a high energy laser creates a thin flap on the very front surface of the cornea. This flap is gently lifted, and the deeper corneal tissue is reshaped in order to eliminate refractive error. After the reshaping is complete, the flap is carefully replaced, and clear vision is usually achieved in a matter of hours to days. LASIK is a quick procedure with minimal discomfort. Recovery time is short, and many people can return to work the next day. Like any surgery, is does carry some risks, ranging from dry eyes, to flap displacement, to serious infection. However, the rate of complications is very low. People who undergo LASIK are typically very pleased with the results following surgery.
PRK is another surgical option that was the predecessor to LASIK surgery. PRK also uses a laser to reshape the deeper corneal tissue in order to correct for an individual’s refractive error. However, unlike LASIK, PRK does not form a flap in order to reach this deeper tissue. Instead, the front surface of the cornea is completely removed, and slowly grows back after surgery. This means that there is a significantly longer recovery time associated with PRK, as well as a higher risk for discomfort. But because no flap is formed during surgery, there are no risks of flap-displacement, making PRK a preferred option for many people with highly physical jobs or hobbies.
LASIK and PRK are great options for corrective refractive surgery. For those who are not a candidate for these surgeries, or are interested in other options, some newer procedures can also be performed to provide clear vision without glasses or contacts. Intacs are thin, biocompatible inserts that can be surgically placed within the deep tissue of the cornea. After insertion, these implants permanently correct vision. Intacs are a great option to correct for low levels of nearsightedness, and can even be used to treat a degenerative corneal condition known as keratoconus. Another surgical option to correct vision is known as clear lens extraction. This procedure is similar to cataract surgery, in that the natural crystalline lens of the eye is removed and replaced with a new biocompatible lens. In clear lens extraction, the new implant is specifically designed with the optics of the eye in mind so that no glasses or contact lenses are needed following surgery. Both Intacs and Clear Lens Extraction are quick, safe procedures that are great options for those who may not be candidates for the traditional refractive surgeries.