4 Best Alternatives to LASIK

4 Best Alternatives to LASIK

April 5, 2023

Table of Content

Comprehensive Guide to LASIK and Its Alternatives for Your Eye Health in Chicago

This comprehensive guide offers a deep dive into LASIK, a popular refractive surgery, alongside a curated selection of LASIK alternatives for those seeking options in laser vision correction.

We understand that each individual's eye health is unique, prompting the necessity for alternatives that cater to a range of vision and eye care needs. Exploring options like PRK (Photorefractive Keratectomy), ICL (Implantable Collamer Lens), RLE (Refractive Lens Exchange), and lens implants including IOL (Intraocular Lens), this guide empowers you to make an informed decision about eye surgery. It presents the benefits and risks associated with each option to ensure that your decision enhances your vision optimally.

At Kraff Eye Institute, we offer customized eye surgery solutions, including refractive surgery, that prioritize your safety and eye health in the Chicago region. Peruse this guide for a thorough understanding of the different alternatives available, their suitability for your eyes, and how they compare to LASIK and custom contact lens solutions.

What Is LASIK? Popular Chicago-Based Refractive Surgery Explained

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.

At the Kraff Eye Institute, we understand that LASIK, a remarkably beneficial laser vision correction technique, isn't the sole path toward visual improvement.

Although it's a prevalent choice for many seeking refractive surgery in Chicago, alternatives to LASIK may align more closely with your personal vision enhancement objectives and the unique characteristics of your eyes.

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.

It's essential to recognize that LASIK isn't universally suitable for every patient. The procedure involves creating a flap in the corneal tissue, making it less ideal for individuals with thin corneas.

Understanding your eye's structure, along with factors like age, overall eye health, and specific vision conditions, is crucial in selecting the most appropriate eye surgery procedure to achieve long-term visual acuity.

alternatives to lasik

Alternative #1 to LASIK: Photorefractive Keratectomy (PRK) for VisionCorrection

When considering LASIK alternatives for laser visioncorrection, Photorefractive Keratectomy, commonly known as PRK, emerges as aprominent option. PRK is a type of refractive surgery that modifies thecornea's curvature, focusing on the cornea's surface for those with a shallowor thin corneal structure. Unlike LASIK which involves creating a corneal flap,PRK entails the precise removal of the corneal epithelium, allowing those withthinner corneas or those at risk of dry eyes to attain optimal vision correction.

Conditions Treated by PRK

PRK andASA surgery are both extremely proficient at addressing vision impairments.This includes PRK eyesurgery for farsightedness, PRK for myopia, PRK surgeryfor presbyopia, or PRK forastigmatism.

Candidacy for ASA

The candidacy for PRK or ASA (another term for surfaceablation surgeries) encompasses individuals who are at least 18 years old, notpregnant or nursing, possess overall healthy eyes, and do not suffer fromsystemic conditions like diabetes that could impede healing.

PRK Potential Side Effects

As with all forms of eye surgery, there is a slight potential for side effects from PRK, such as corneal scarring, experiencing glare and halos, especially at night, corneal infections, and corneal haze which causes cloudiness in the vision.

Pros Of PRK Surgery

There are many benefits of PRK, 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 is ideal for those with thin corneas.

Cons Of Photorefractive Keratectomy

Some cons of photorefractive keratectomy include a chance ofdry eyes, the risk of under-correction or over-correction, the need to usebandage contact lenses during recovery, and a slightly longer recovery period.

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.

laser eye surgery alternatives

Alternative #2: Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE) as a LASIK Alternative –Pros and Cons

When considering LASIK alternatives, Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE) stands out as a noteworthy option. This form of refractive surgery involves the removal of the eye's natural lens and its substitution with an advanced intraocular lens. Although similar to cataract surgery, RLE primarily focuses on enhancing vision for those without significant lens opacities.

Conditions Treated by RLE

RLE addresses various visual impairments, such as myopia, hyperopia, astigmatism, and notably, presbyopia—the age-related struggle with near vision.

Candidacy for RLE

Ideal candidates for this lens exchange procedure are often above 50, experiencing early cataract formation, unsuitable for LASIK or PRK, desiring independence from reading glasses, or wishing to improve presbyopia.

RLE Complications

While RLE can dramatically improve quality of life, it's important to consider potential risks including temporary vision blurring, heightened light sensitivity, and visual disturbances like glare and halos.

Benefits of Refractive Lens Exchange

Unlike other eye surgeries, the benefits of RLE include longevity- artificial lenses don't deteriorate over time, thus patients are spared from cataract development later is life.

Risks of RLE

Although RLE is transformative, it's not universally applicable for every eye condition, it can present higher costs compared to LASIK, and involves a more invasive approach.

As experts in eye care, at Kraff Eye Institute, we guide our patients through the decision-making process for eye surgery by thoroughly discussing the benefits and risks.

Although RLE offers a multifunctional solution with both monofocal and multifocal lens options, the procedure is indeed more costly and invasive than other vision corrective surgeries. Seeking advice from a qualified eye doctor in the local Chicago region is essential for an informed decision and a positive outcome.

Costs of RLE

As an elective procedure, insurance typically does not cover RLE, with out-of-pocket costs ranging between $2,500 to $4,500 per eye. Nonetheless, investing in RLE at the Kraff Eye Institute can be a life-enhancing decision, providing long-term vision enhancements and reducing the dependency on glasses for our patients.

RLE Complications

Lens Exchange Options: Clarity Through Lens Implants

When looking for LASIK alternatives, you may find yourself interested in lens exchange. Lens exchange offers a remarkable avenue to attain visual clarity. This surgical option, known as Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE), involves the removal of the eye's natural lens, which is then replaced with an advanced IOL – an implant designed to correct vision.

Whether it's due to presbyopia, cataract development, or simply a desire for a lens-based solution, these implants provide a variety of options.

Monofocal IOLs bring single-distance vision into focus, while multifocal implants offer the versatility of seeing at multiple distances. Toric IOLs correct astigmatism, providing tailored solutions for those with irregular corneal curvature.

It's noteworthy that lens exchange not only serves as a preventive measure against cataracts but also offers permanent corrections that evade the typical age-related progression to cataracts. The clarity gained post eye surgery via these implants provides a compelling alternative to LASIK, presenting a suitable option for patients at the Kraff Eye Institute who are seeking an optimal visual outcome.

lasik eye surgery alternatives

Alternative #3: Consider an Intraocular Lens (IOL) as a Contact Lens Substitute

Intraocular lenses (IOLs) represent an advanced substitute for contact lenses, providing a long-term solution to refractive errors. It is commonly used to treat cataracts or treat nearsightedness and is a less expensive alternative to LASIK surgery.

As a premier eye care destination in the heart of downtown Chicago, Kraff Eye Institute prides itself on offering state-of-the-art options for patients considering alternatives to traditional refractive surgery, such as LASIK.

Unlike LASIK, which reshapes the cornea, IOL implants replace the eye's natural lens, thereby offering a dual benefit for both vision correction and cataract surgery prevention.

Cataracts, notorious for clouding vision, and severe myopia are conditions commonly treated by IOLs. Additionally, patients encountering presbyopia, or age-related farsightedness, may find IOLs immensely beneficial.

Candidacy for IOL

To determine if you are a suitable candidate for IOLs at the Kraff Eye Institute, we consider several factors, such as the presence of cataracts, high myopia exceeding -10 diopters, intact corneal surfaces, inadequate results from monovision contact lenses, robust macular function, and the aspiration for glasses-free vision. Our comprehensive eye care approach assesses each patient's unique needs to ensure optimal outcomes.

IOL Side Effects

Potential side effects associated with intraocular lenses include dry eyes, heightened light sensitivity, temporary blurry vision, increased intraocular pressure, retinal detachment risks, and mild postoperative discomfort. The Kraff Eye Institute's expert team diligently works to mitigate such side effects, ensuring a seamless transition to enhanced vision.

Pros of IOL

The benefits of IOLs, provided by refractive surgery specialists at Kraff Eye Institute, are noteworthy. They include the elimination of regular contact lens maintenance, cost-effectiveness versus ongoing expenditures on glasses, and the facilitation of an active lifestyle unhindered by corrective eyewear.

Cons of IOL

Supplementary glasses might still be required for certain tasks and that nighttime glares or halos could be experienced. Weighing these pros and cons is a significant step in the decision-making process.

Cost of IOL

The cost of IOL implantation is influenced by various factors, including your surgeon's expertise, procedural location, and the specific type of IOL recommended. At Kraff Eye Institute, prices can range from $1,500 to $3,000 per eye, whereas cataract-related IOL procedures may be eligible for insurance coverage. Our team is dedicated to providing a transparent and informative consultation regarding the investment in your vision and eye care.

alternative lasik eye surgery

Alternative #4: Implantable Collamer Lens (ICL) for Improved Eye Sight

For individuals with a higher prescription that exceeds the corrective scope of LASIK, the Implantable Collamer Lens, commonly referred to as ICL or EVO ICL, serves as an exceptional LASIK alternative. This innovative type of refractive surgery involves a lens implant that is specifically designed to reside behind the iris and before the natural lens, providing enhanced vision clarity.

This type of eye surgery is notably quick, typically requiring about 15 minutes per eye.

Refractive errors such as myopia (nearsightedness) and astigmatism are effectively treated using the ICL procedure, which improves eyesight markedly.

alternative to lasik

Candidacy for ICL

To be considered for an ICL lens implant, potential candidates should meet the following criteria:

• You are between 21-45 years old

• You are not 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

ICL Complications

While ICL boasts a high success rate, some potential complications include infection, vision disturbances such as glare or halos, an increase in intraocular pressure which can lead to glaucoma, possible cataract formation, and loss of endothelial cells.

Pros of ICL

As a worthy alternative to LASIK, ICL offers several advantages:

• 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

Cost of ICL

Despite its benefits, ICL surgery is not typically covered by insurance as it is considered elective and can pose a higher cost than laser treatments, with expenses around $4,000 or more per eye. Additionally, an age restriction limits this procedure to individuals 21-35 years old.

As an elective form of eye surgery, ICL may not be covered by insurance plans, leading to out-of-pocket expenses for patients seeking this alternate lens implant to enhance their sight.

Finding the Right LASIK Alternatives: Your Eye Surgery Options in Chicago, IL

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, and your visual goals.

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.

At Kraff Eye Institute, we're dedicated to enhancing your vision and improving your quality of life. We understand that patients looking for LASIK alternatives seek the safest options in refractive surgery, along with the most experienced surgeon. In your pursuit of better vision, our team stands ready to guide you through the array of choices, such as ICL, PRK, RLE, and the advanced EVO ICL.

Each alternative carries its benefits and risks, but safety remains our highest priority. We'll delve into the nuances of lens exchange procedures, compare them to the traditional contact lens approach, and discuss the long-term safety and benefits of each laser vision correction technique. As decision time approaches, rest assured that you're in the hands of skilled ophthalmologists at the Kraff Eye Institute, located in the heart of downtown Chicago.

alternative to lasik eye surgery

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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