Difference Between Intraocular Lenses Implant (IOL) vs LASIK

Difference Between Intraocular Lenses Implant (IOL) vs LASIK

May 5, 2023

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If you’re frustrated by your current vision and you’re sick of wearing contacts or glasses, you might be looking into an intraocular lens (IOL) implant vs. LASIK. While both procedures are highly effective and can help you achieve the 20/20 vision you’ve always wanted, each procedure is different in its approach and works to correct your vision differently. We can help you better understand IOL surgery in Chicago and how it compares to LASIK eye surgery

IOL Surgery Vs LASIK: Indications & Patient Selection

IOL Surgery Vs LASIK: Indications & Patient Selection

There are some patients that are considered to be more suitable for some vision correction procedures than others. 

  • Patients who are not considered to be eligible for LASIK include those who require a vision correction above 6-8 dioptres, and depending on the thickness of the cornea; 
  • Those with thin corneas or those who have undergone previous corneal surgeries or those who have corneal scars.

In addition, intraocular lenses are helpful for correcting high levels of myopia (up to 20 dioptres) with minimal patient restrictions. Keep in mind that less than three dioptres of correction phakic IOLs are not recommended. Those patients who have early cataract characteristics, often opt for refractive lens exchange.

LASIK vs IOL: Details

Now let’s look at the LASIK vs. IOL benefits compared to one another. Let’s start by looking at LASIK, the less invasive option. LASIK, is categorized as an extraocular procedure, meaning the surgeon operates on the surface of the eye. LASIK can be used to treat various eye issues such as cataract surgery, LASIK for myopia, LASIK treatments for patients with astigmatism, LASIK treatments for patients with hyperopia, presbyopia LASIK treatment, or LASIK procedure for amblyopia. All LASIK procedures reshape the cornea to allow the light that enters the eye to fall properly on the retina, resulting in sharper vision. The procedure itself only takes 15 minutes to complete and it can take a few days for the vision to stabilize.

IOL is a more invasive surgery because the surgeon works inside the eye. Phakic IOLs that don’t involve removing the natural lens are reversible, while CLE is not as the natural lens is removed. Many surgeons prefer to operate on each eye on separate days because the procedure can have a heightened risk of intraocular infection.

Ideal for correcting myopia, hyperopia, and astigmatism Can correct high levels of ametropia
Fast recovery and less chance of infection, irreversible Longer recovery time
Drier eyes, difficulty driving at night Suitable for those with thin corneas and dry eye
Easily corrects astigmatism Chance of postoperative astigmatism
No need for intraocular surgery, foldable models Needs intraocular surgery, non-foldable model

Intraocular Lenses Implant vs LASIK: Risks & Complications

Intraocular Lenses Implant vs LASIK: Risks & Complications

As you can imagine, IOL surgery is a much more invasive procedure compared to LASIK and there are more risk factors involved. Such risk factors include bleeding, infection, and retinal detachment. Other secondary risks after implanting a lens can include the sensation of having a foreign body in the eye, glare, halos, eye dryness, and night vision difficulties. Many patients also still require glasses to help with their vision while performing certain tasks. 

Time of Procedures LASIK vs Lens Implant

Both surgeries require the same amount of time. One minor difference is that LASIK is done on both eyes together while the majority of surgeons prefer to perform the lens implant surgery on different days. LASIK takes around 15 minutes to complete and is performed on both eyes on the same day.  With lens implant surgery, it takes about 20-30 minutes per eye and the two eyes are usually completed about one week apart. The recovery and follow-up visit schedule is similar to both procedures. 


The price of each surgery is undoubtedly a factor for many patients as neither is typically covered by insurance. The average cost of LASIK surgery in Chicago is around $2,200-$3,200 per eye, but the specific price will depend on many factors. The IOL procedure is more expensive as it is more invasive and takes a longer time to perform. Some patients opt to take out a personal loan or take advantage of payment plans. 

Intraocular Lens vs LASIK: Need for Reading Glasses

Intraocular Lens vs LASIK: Need for Reading Glasses

Glasses are another consideration for multifocal IOL vs. LASIK. Some patients already need reading glasses, and all refractive procedures can’t specifically address this need. For those who get LASIK, monovision is a possible solution. Phakic IOLs cannot correct for near vision while both clear lens extraction and refractive lens exchange can correct nearsightedness and farsightedness.

If you don’t have presbyopia before the procedure, you’ll still be able to read without glasses regardless of the type of surgery that you choose. The only case this isn’t true is if you have a refractive lens exchange with a unifocal lens.

Recommendations in Case of Phakic IOL vs LASIK

If you have low-to-medium refractive errors and don’t have any previous eye injuries, trauma, or diseases, you’ll likely opt for LASIK. Lens implants are capable of correcting nearly all refractive errors and the results are often more reliable than those after LASIK.

Toric IOL vs. LASIK has other considerations as well. IOL is usually performed if the patient isn’t the right candidate for other types of surgeries such as LASIK. For example, patients who have early cataracts typically benefit more from RLE, and IOLs are best suited for patients that have stable keratoconus or previous corneal surgeries. 

Final Verdict

Both surgeries are effective for vision correction and offer specific benefits depending on the patient's specific needs. Every patient has unique needs, and it’s best to consult with a team of professionals to help you determine which option is best based on your eye exam and overall health evaluation. To learn more about these procedures and determine which is the best for you, we encourage you to book an appointment with us at the Kraff Eye Institute today.

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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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