4 Best Alternatives to LASIK

4 Best Alternatives to LASIK

April 5, 2023

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LASIK eye surgery in Chicago is a very popular vision correction procedure with many benefits. Even if you’re a candidate for LASIK, you might want to explore LASIK alternatives so you can make an informed decision about which procedure is best for you and your long-term vision goals. The specific attributes of your eyes will help you determine which procedure is best. Options include Refractive Lens Exchange Surgery, Phakic Intraocular Lens Implants, and Epi-LASIK.

What Is LASIK?

One of the most revolutionary procedures for improving eyesight is LASIK. It was approved by the FDA in 1999 and has undergone various developments to make it safer and more effective. Today, patients seek LASIK surgery for farsightedness, LASIK for nearsightedness, LASIK surgery for presbyopia, LASIK for astigmatism, LASIK surgery for lazy eye, and more.

As LASIK has advanced, 95% of today’s LASIK patients report positive results for years down the road. However, this procedure isn’t the best fit for everyone. For example, if you have thin corneas, you might want to consider a LASIK alternative as LASIK requires creating a corneal flap and if your corneas are too thin, this procedure isn’t recommended. Other factors in choosing the appropriate procedure include age, eye disease, and your general health.

Alternative #1: Photorefractive Keratectomy (PRK)

alternatives to lasik

PRK and ASA surgery is an alternative to LASIK that you may consider. PRK stands for photorefractive keratectomy and it is a vision correction procedure in which the corneal epithelium (the thin top layer of the cornea) is removed.

PRK is different from LASIK as LASIK requires cutting the cornea. LASIK requires a thick cornea while PRK doesn’t. This means it’s ideal for those with thin corneas as well as those prone to dry eyes.

Conditions Treated by PRK

PRK can be used for various conditions including PRK eye surgery for farsightedness, PRK for myopia, PRK surgery for presbyopia, or PRK for astigmatism.

Candidacy for ASA

The ideal candidate for ASA or PRK is:

  • At least 18 years or older
  • Isn’t pregnant or nursing
  • Has generally healthy eyes
  • Doesn’t have any underlying systemic diseases such as diabetes that could impact healing

PRK Side Effects

laser eye surgery alternatives

Just like any surgical procedure, there are potential side effects with the PRK procedure including:

  • Corneal scarring
  • Glare and halos around lights, particularly at night
  • Corneal infections
  • Corneal haze (cloudiness)

Pros of PRK Surgery

There are many PRK benefits including improved vision, no need to create a physical flap during surgery, a high chance of success, a low risk of long-term complications, and ideal for those with thin corneas.

Cons of Photorefractive Keratectomy

Some cons of photorefractive keratectomy include a chance of dry eyes, the risk of under-correction or over-correction, the potential to create worse vision than before, and the need to use bandage contact lenses during recovery.

PRK Costs

PRK pricing in Chicago depends on many factors. This LASIK alternative for thin corneas is considered to be an elective surgery so insurance doesn’t often cover the costs. You can expect to pay anywhere from $1,900 to  $4,000.

Alternative #2: Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE)

Another LASIK alternative is refractive lens exchange (RLE). This procedure involves removing the natural lens of the eye and replacing it with an intraocular lens implant. It is a similar procedure to cataract surgery as the lens of the eye is removed and replaced. This new and redesigned lens allows for better vision at closer and farther distances.

Conditions Treated by RLE

This is one of the alternatives to laser eye surgery for those who have nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism, or presbyopia which is the inability to focus on close-up objects after the age of 40.

Candidacy for RLE

You are a good candidate for RLE if you:

  • Are 50 years or older and you’ve experienced the early stages of cataract development
  • Do not qualify for LASIK or PRK
  • Want to treat presbyopia, or the inability to focus on near objects
  • Want to eliminate the need for glasses

RLE Complications

RLE Complications

There are some potential complications including:

  • Temporary blurring
  • Increased light sensitivity
  • Rings and halos around lights

Pros of Refractive Lens Exchange Surgery

One huge pro of refractive lens exchange surgery is that it lasts longer than other types of similar procedures. This is due to the artificial lens that stays clear and doesn’t age. In this case, patients also don’t develop cataracts.

Cons of RLE

Some cons of RLE include:

  • It’s not ideal for treating some eye conditions
  • It’s more expensive compared to LASIK
  • It’s more invasive than LASIK

RLE Costs

As RLE is an elective surgery, it typically isn’t covered by insurance. In most cases, RLE can cost anywhere from $2,500 to $4,500 per eye.

Alternative #3: Intraocular Lens (IOL) Implants

lasik eye surgery alternatives

Intraocular lens implants are another top LASIK eye surgery alternative. During this procedure, an artificial lens is inserted into your eye to replace the natural lens. It is commonly used to treat cataracts and is a less expensive alternative to LASIK surgery.

Conditions Treated by Intraocular Lenses

The primary conditions treated by IOL lenses include cataracts,  a condition that causes vision to be cloudy or blurry. It is also ideal for certain types of presbyopia, or age-related farsightedness in addition to nearsightedness treatment.

Candidacy for IOL

If you have any of the following, you might qualify for IOLs:

  • Cataracts
  • Severe myopia (nearsightedness that is greater than -10 or -11 diopters
  • Healthy corneal surfaces
  • Unsuccessful monovision contact lenses
  • A desire to eliminate the need for glasses
  • Strong macular function

IOL Side Effects

alternative lasik eye surgery

Here are some potential side effects of IOL:

  • Dry eyes
  • Light sensitivity
  • Blurry vision as your eyes adjust to the lenses
  • Increased intraocular pressure
  • Retinal detachment
  • Mild inflammation or pain

Pros of Intraocular Lens

This alternative to LASIK surgery comes with pros such as:

  • Minimal or nonexistent upkeep
  • Affordable compared to getting replacement glasses and corrective lenses
  • Helps establish a more active lifestyle without the need for glasses

Cons of IOL

Some cons of IOL include:

  • The need for glasses to enhance vision
  • Can often cause glares or halos at night
  • Increases the chance of future cataract surgery complications

IOL Costs

The price is determined by factors such as your surgeon, the location of the procedure and the type of IOL that is recommended, but you can expect to pay anywhere from $1,500 to $3,000 per eye for this procedure. If you have a significant case of cataracts, it may be covered by insurance.

Alternative #4: Implantable Collamer Lens (ICL)

alternative to lasik

Some patients have a high prescription that is too high for laser eye surgery, an implantable collamer lens (ICL) is an ideal option for these individuals. It uses an implantable contact lens that sits behind the iris and in front of the natural lens to correct refractive errors. The procedure takes about 15 minutes per eye.

Conditions Treated by ICL

ICL surgery is ideal for treating conditions such as myopia (nearsightedness) and astigmatism.

Candidacy for Implantable Collamer Lens

If you have any of the following, you may qualify for ICL:

  • You’re between 21-45 years old
  • You aren’t a good LASIK candidate
  • You have moderate to severe myopia
  • You have minor or nonexistent astigmatism
  • You have generally good eye health with no history of trauma
  • You have at least 6-12 months of unchanged vision correction prescriptions
  • You aren’t pregnant or breastfeeding
  • You aren’t allergic to local anesthesia

EVO Visian ICL Complications

Potential complications include eye infections, blurry vision, glare or halos in low-level lighting, increased intraocular pressure (glaucoma), clouding of the natural lens (cataracts), eye infections, or endothelial cell loss.

Pros of ICL

alternative to lasik eye surgery

This alternative to LASIK eye surgery has pros such as:

  • Completely reversible
  • Offers a long-term solution
  • Less risk of dry eyes
  • Reduced dependence on glasses or contact lenses
  • Ideal for patients who are ineligible for LASIK
  • Often results in 20/20 vision or better
  • Ideal for those with higher amounts of myopia including -3.0 diopters to -20.00 diopters

Cons of ICL Surgery

This procedure isn’t covered by insurance and it has an age limit of 21-35 years. It’s also more expensive than laser treatments.

EVO Visian ICL Costs

The phakic procedure costs roughly $4,000 (or more) per eye and isn’t often covered by insurance as it is elective.

Which Procedure Is Right for You?

There are many alternatives to LASIK eye surgery. Most people are likely a better candidate for some procedures over others. While each of the above procedures is safe and effective, your doctor will help you determine which is ideal based on your general eye health.

If you have thick corneas, LASIK is the best option while those with thin corneas should opt for PRK. When replacing the eye’s natural lens, IOL implants and RLEs are better alternatives to LASIK and the most ideal as they offer a permanent and long-lasting solution versus other corrective procedures. In the case that you have eye disease, or you aren’t eligible for laser vision surgery, you can always stick with glasses or contact lenses. Some patients wear glasses to enhance their outcomes after recovery.

Type of Surgery Conditions Treated Healing Time/Rate Re-treatment Rate
LASIK Myopia, hyperopia, astigmatism, aberrations 7 days and most patients achieve 20/20 vision within 24 hours 4%
RLE Myopia, hyperopia, astigmatism, presbyopia 7 days 4%
PRK Myopia, hyperopia, astigmatism 7 days 4%
ICL Myopia and astigmatism 3-4 weeks to see final outcome, most patients have 70-80% restored vision within 24 hours 4%

Discover Better Vision at Kraff Eye Institute

Regardless of your current vision, our team at the Kraff Eye Institute is here to help you improve your vision and enhance your quality of life. We are passionate about helping you achieve your optimal vision by carefully evaluating your eyes. For more information on our vision correction procedures, we encourage you to schedule a consultation with our skilled ophthalmologists.

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Dr. Colman R. Kraff

Committed to advancing new technologies in the field of ophthalmology, Dr. Colman Kraff helped to pioneer laser vision correction. In February of 1991, as part of a five-site, U.S., FDA clinical trial team, Dr. Kraff successfully performed the first excimer laser procedures in the Chicagoland area using the VISX Excimer Laser.

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Couldn't have asked for a better Lasik experience. Professional staff, excellent post-op care with the surgeon present at every appointment. Would highly recommend to anyone thinking about Lasik!

S Clark
October 15, 2020
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I had LASIK with Dr. Colman Kraff over 10 years ago. Just went in for my check-up and still perfect vision. I do not know why I waited so long to have LASIK. It is the best money I have ever spent.

Mark Bryant
January 15, 2021
5

My experience at Kraff Eye was wonderful! I've been there 3 times in the last week for my PRK surgery and follow up appointments. They are patient kind and want to give you the best experience possible. Dr. Kraff is calm and helps you stay relaxed before, during and after your surgery. I'm happy with my experience and would highly recommend them for your vision correction surgery.

Sarah Lill
January 15, 2020
5

I loved working with the Kraff Eye Institute for my Lasik surgery. I had horrible eye-sight. I went from a -8 and -7 contact prescription to perfect vision! I can't believe it. Highly recommend them.

Courtney Rioux
February 1, 2019
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Dr. Kraff was awesome. The staff walked me through my LASIK procedure and made me feel at ease. It’s been one day with perfect vision and I’m very happy with the results!

Mary Krzyzanowski
March 9, 2018