Types of Vision Correction Surgery

Most types of vision correction surgery work by either reshaping the cornea, the clear front part of the eye, so when light travels through it, it is properly focused onto the retina located in the back of the eye, or replacing the eye’s natural lens. There are a number of different types of vision correction surgeries to improve vision. In recent years, huge strides have been made in this field, and most patients report better vision than they ever had before.
LASIK : Laser in-situ keratomileusis- The most well-known vision correction surgery. LASIK is used to correct vision in people who are nearsighted, farsighted, and/or have astigmatism by reshaping underlying corneal tissue so that it can properly focus light into the eye and onto the retina. LASIK eye surgery differs from others in that a flap is made in the outer layer of the cornea so that the underlying tissue can be accessed.
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PRK: Photorefractive keratectomy- Used to correct mild to moderate nearsightedness, farsightedness, and/or astigmatism using a laser to reshape the cornea which delivers a cool pulsing beam of ultraviolet light on the surface of the cornea, not underneath a flap of the cornea.
LASEK: Laser epithelial keratomileusis- Used to correct nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. This is a variant of PRK where an epithelial flap is created and then epithelial cells are loosened using an alcohol solution. A laser is used to reshape the cornea, then the flap is replaced and secured with a soft contact lens while it heals.
ALK: Automated lamellar keratoplasty- Used to correct vision in people with severe nearsightedness and slight degrees of farsightedness. LASIK basically replaced ALK, as a flap is created in the cornea so that the doctor can reach the underlying tissue then another incision is made on the sub layer of the cornea to reshape it.
RLE: Refractive lens exchange or clear lens extraction- Used to correct extreme farsightedness or nearsightedness. It is similar to cataract surgery and involves making a small incision at the edge of the cornea to remove the natural lens of the eye and replace it with a silicone or plastic lens. It may be appropriate for people with thin corneas to correct astigmatism, however, another procedure such as PRK or LASEK is sometimes needed in addition to RLE.
EpiLasik: Similar to PRK, a very thin layer is separated from the cornea and then the cornea is reshaped. The thin layer may be left off or replaced. The area is protected with a soft contact lens while it heals.
PRELEX: Presbyopic lens exchange, PRELEX- Is a procedure in which a multifocal lens is implanted to correct presbyopia, a condition in which the eye’s lens loses its flexibility, making it difficult to focus on close objects.
Intacs: Intracorneal ring segments, ICR- This procedure involves making a small incision in the cornea and placing two crescent-shaped plastic rings at the outer edge or the cornea. The rings flatten the cornea, changing the way light rays focus on the retina. ICR was used to treat mild nearsightedness as well as nearsightedness but has been replaced by laser-based procedures. Irregular astigmatism associated with thinning and irregularity in the cornea, can sometimes benefit from this method.
Phakic intraocular lens implants- Designed for patients who are too nearsighted for LASIK and PRK, the phakic implant is inserted through a small incision at the edge of the cornea and attached to the iris inserted behind the pupil. This procedure differs from RLE in that the eye’s natural lens is left in place.
AK: Astigmatic keratotomy- This is not laser eye surgery, but a surgical procedure used to correct astigmatism. The cornea of people who have astigmatism is shaped like a football. AK eye surgery corrects astigmatism by making one or two incisions at the steepest part of the cornea. These incisions cause the cornea to relax and take a more rounded shape. This eye surgery may be used alone, or in combination with other laser eye surgeries such as PRK, LASIK, or RK.
As technology progresses quickly, it is very important that you explore all of the options and possibilities before deciding on which vision correction surgery is right for you.

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