Your optometrist provides an impartial assessment about the best options for correcting poor vision including refractive surgery. Many optometrists also co-manage pre- and post-surgical patients with an ophthalmologist. There are several surgical options available when considering refractive surgery to reduce your dependence on glasses or contact lenses, but not every patient is a candidate for every option.
Photo-refractive Keratectomy (PRK)
In PRK the outer layer of the cornea is gently removed and a laser is used to reshape the cornea. The epithelium regenerates within 3-5 days but during that time a contact lens is used to minimize discomfort and provide a protected environment for good healing. PRK achieves excellent results but the main drawbacks are there is some eye pain or irritation and the prescription can take up to three months to stabilize. There is less likelihood of dry eye symptoms than other procedures.
Laser In-Situ Keratomileusis (LASIK)
LASIK is the most common type of refractive surgery since it provides faster vision recovery and minimal eye discomfort. A flap of the cornea is produced using a blade which is folded back and laser is applied to the cornea. The flap is then repositioned where is binds tightly without the need for stitches. The drawback to LASIK is dry eye symptoms, glare or halo and instances where the flap is dislodged.
SBK is very similar to LASIK except the flap is produced using a femtosecond laser which creates a uniform flap. This uniform flap has potentially fewer complications then blade flaps.
Clear Lens Extraction (CLE)
CLE does not involve a laser and is actually the same procedure as cataract surgery. Rather than waiting for the lens to lose its transparency the ophthalmologist removes the clear lens and replaces it with a better suited artificial lens. This new lens provides proper focusing power to improve distance vision. This procedure is more invasive and reading glasses may be required for all patients regardless of age unless a multifocal implant is used.
Discussing your options with your optometrist who is not affiliated with any particular ophthalmologist will provide the most impartial professional opinion on which options are best suited for your eyes and what the expected outcome should be. The patient’s age and overall eye health is the key to setting reasonable expectations and a comprehensive eye examination should always be your first step.