LASIK Isn’t the right fit for everyone, so what are your options?
Contacts, implants, surgery… what’s right for you?
Once you arrive at our Laser Vision Correction Center, we start with a comprehensive evaluation of your individual treatment options. Then we will discuss your options, what you’re most at ease with and which option is our recommendation based on your lifestyle. Sometimes it is LASIK, sometimes it’s a LASIK alternative and in some cases we’ll conclude that contacts or even a change in your prescription glasses is the safest solution for you. It’s your vision and the best treatment is a team effort with you and the trusted professionals at Delta Eye Medical Group in Stockton, Tracy and Lodi.
Photorefractive Keratectomy, or PRK, is performed at Delta Eye Medical Group for patients who are not suitable candidates for LASIK. A highly successful LASIK alternative, PRK is especially useful when resolving low degrees of myopia, hyperopia, and astigmatism.
There are a variety of reasons why one of our physicians may recommend PRK over other treatments for our patients. In general, PRK is preferred over other treatments when the patient has any one of the following conditions:
- Thin Cornea
- Irregular Cornea
- Scarred Cornea
Unlike LASIK, in which a hinged flap is created on the outer layer of the cornea, the corneal epithelium, PRK completely removes the corneal epithelium before reshaping the corneal tissue. Prior to the procedure, your Delta Eye surgeon numbs the cornea with topical anesthetic drops, then ablates the entire corneal epithelium with a cool, ultraviolet excimer laser. Next the computer-controlled excimer laser makes the appropriate adjustments needed to correct the refractive error. Post surgery, you must wear a bandage or specialized contact lenses to assist with proper regeneration of the corneal epithelium. Your doctor will also prescribe antibiotics and/or anti-inflammatory drops that prevent infections and reduce the likelihood of any post-operative complications.
Because the procedure completely removes the outer layer of the cornea, healing time is longer with PRK in comparison to other vision correction options. It takes between three to five days for complete regrowth of the corneal epithelium. Furthermore, improved visual acuity returns to PRK recipients slower than with LASIK. However, the long-term improvements associated with either PRK or LASIK are practically identical.
Photo-refractive Keratectomy Epithelial Keratomileusis (PRKEK), also called Laser-Assisted sub-Epithelial Keratectomy (LASEK) is a variant of PRK and another LASIK alternative available to our patients. LASEK is used when the cornea is too flat or thin for LASIK. In the LASEK procedure, the epithelium is removed with alcohol and saved to be replaced after the laser application. After removal of the epithelium, the surgeon positions the laser beam over the eye, directing light pulses to achieve the desired correction. The epithelial layer is placed back into position in the LASEK procedure. You can expect to achieve the same great results as LASIK with only a few differences.
With LASEK, a bandage contact lens is applied to help in the healing process and is usually kept in place for up to one week after the procedure. In some patients, this may provide more rapid healing than with PRK, although still not as rapid as LASIK. The healing process is usually slower and results take longer to achieve; usually up to one or two months. Most people experience discomfort following these procedures and a pain reliever is typically prescribed both in drop and pill form. The visual outcomes can be the same as with LASIK. Most patients return to work or normal daily activities within a few days.
To learn more about your LASIK alternative options, visit our Laser Vision Correction Centers in Stockton, Tracy or Lodi to speak to our staff!