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LASIK is usually what comes to mind when considering laser vision correction surgery. However, there are alternatives to LASIK, and they get relied upon more than you may think.

PRK, for example, is typically used for people whose corneas are too thin for LASIK. In some circumstances, PRK may not be the right choice for a patient seeking laser surgery. If this is the case, then a procedure called “RLE” or “refractive lens exchange” may be better. Keep reading to learn more about RLE and laser vision correction options!

What Is Refractive Lens Exchange?

Refractive lens exchange is a surgical technique where the lens of the eye is replaced. When the lens has been removed, it is then replaced with an artificial lens. This is most commonly used to treat cataracts which grow in the lens of the eye.

RLE is also used to treat presbyopia. Presbyopia is age-related farsightedness. This happens when the muscles around the lens lose elasticity.

The synthetic lenses are “IOLs”, short for intraocular lenses. There are many different kinds of IOLs that you can choose from.

Here are some of the IOL options to consider:

  • Monofocal IOLs correct for either near or far distance viewing. This IOL is best for those that are okay with wearing glasses after refractive surgery. You’ll have to continue wearing any glasses you already have with monofocal IOLs. They are generally less expensive than other types of IOLs.
  • Multifocal IOLs correct for both far and near distance viewing. There may be some loss in the middle ground with being able to see things not as far away.
  • Accommodating IOLs also correct for both near and far focus lengths. They also move inside of the eye, allowing for smoother transitions between distances.
  • Toric IOLs are designed to treat astigmatism. This is the best IOL for patients with astigmatism.

Keep in mind that even if you get multifocal, accommodating, or toric IOLs, you may still need glasses. Many patients with IOLs find that they have a reduced need for glasses if any need at all for them after getting an IOL.

The Difference Between LASIK and PRK

There is one very large reason PRK works for patients with thin corneas. This is because of how PRK is performed. When a patient gets LASIK, the LASIK surgeon creates a flap in the cornea. This flap is then left to heal on its own without stitches.

When patients have thin corneas, getting LASIK increases their chances of flap complications. This is because with LASIK, creating the flap requires removing a small amount of tissue.

When patients get PRK, there is no flap creation. Instead, the epithelial layer is fully removed to correct refractive errors. There is no corneal tissue removed, which is why PRK is safer for patients with thin corneas.

After the removal of the epithelial layer, an excimer laser reshapes the cornea. It can take several weeks for the epithelial layer to grow back, which is why it takes longer to recover from PRK.

PRK was developed before LASIK. LASIK became more popular when surgeons discovered the flap reduced recovery time. But PRK is still a safe and viable method of vision correction, and recovery is also easy.

Come to Little Silver, NJ to see what Atlantic Laser Center can do to help you achieve vision greatness! Contact us today to schedule a vision consultation!