There is a small population of patients out there that do not qualify as a Lasik candidate for several reasons including; too high of a myopic (nearsighted) prescription, thin corneas, dry eyes, etc. There are, however, alternative refractive procedures that can reduce or eliminate the need for glasses or contact lenses.
Alternatives to LASIK include; PRK, Lasek, Visian ICL™ (implantable contact lens), or waiting for future improvements.
PRK (Photo-Refractive Keratectomy) the originally approved form of laser vision correction, has a longer recovery but may be an option for some patients who are unable to have LASIK (examples: patients with thin corneas or small eyes where the LASIK suction ring will not fit). The eye is numbed up with eye drops and then the clear, protective surface layer of the cornea, called the epithelium, is loosened and is either moved to the side or removed completely. Laser is then applied, reshaping the cornea to the correct focusing power, and is done in seconds. A bandage contact lens is placed on the eye to aid in the healing process and make the eye feel more comfortable. The contact will be removed by Dr. Carlson in 3-5 days to give the epithelium time to heal. Vision is somewhat blurred during the epithelium healing process, however, the vast majority of patients attain 20/20 to 20/40 vision afterwards.
Lasek is an option for those whose corneas are too thin. It's a procedure that combines elements of PRK and Lasik. A flap of surface epithelium is loosened with a diluted alcohol solution and then moved aside to allow for the laser to reshape the cornea. The flap will then be returned to its original position providing a natural protective bandage and a contact lens will be placed over the cornea to make the eye more comfortable during the healing process.
The Visian ICL™ is an implantable contact lens made of Collamer and is an excellent option for those whose prescriptions are too high to have Lasik ( > -14.00), corneas are too thin or trouble with dry eyes. A small incision is made in the cornea and the lens is placed between the iris and the natural lens where it stays indefinitely. For more info, go to www.staar.com.