When it comes to improving your vision, there is no shortage of choice. Glasses and contacts are classic ways to enhance your eyesight.
They have stood the test of time, but they come with their own set of drawbacks. Both glasses and contacts are fragile, get lost easily, and are temporary.
The only way to permanently restore vision is with a vision correction procedure. Luckily, vision correction is safe and effective. And there’s a surprising variety of procedures to choose from!
Keep reading to learn which vision correction procedure you should consider!
Refractive Procedure Options
There are numerous vision correction procedures you can consider. PRK, LASIK, and RLE are three of the most reliable and effective.
LASIK is the most well-known vision correction procedure. It works by reshaping your cornea.
Your cornea focuses most of the light entering your eye onto your retina. A misshapen cornea is the most common cause of a refractive error.
This poor curvature results in light not getting focused directly onto your retina. Blurry, out-of-focus vision is what you get.
To reshape the cornea with LASIK, your surgeon uses a laser to first create a flap in the outer layer of your cornea, called the epithelium.
This flap gets lifted off the middle layer of your cornea below but remains attached to your eye. Once the middle layer is accessible, your surgeon uses a second laser to remove bits of tissue from it.
A three-dimensional map of your cornea guides the laser. It tells it the exact amounts of tissue to remove and the precise locations to remove it from.
After the reshaping, the epithelial flap gets folded back over your eye. It attaches to your eye on its own and takes the form of the newly shaped tissue below it.
PRK is similar to LASIK, with one crucial distinction. During PRK, a section of the top corneal layer gets removed entirely instead of creating a flap with it.
PRK was actually the precursor to LASIK. But leaving the flap attached in LASIK results in a much shorter recovery time.
However, PRK still gets used regularly. It is perfect for people who have thin corneas and don’t qualify for LASIK.
LASIK is the preferred option for people who meet its candidacy requirements. But those can be hard to meet, and there is a risk of complications with the flap, which can tear during recovery.
By removing the tissue entirely, you avoid this potential risk. The trade-off is that your body has to grow new tissue, which takes more time.
PRK produces comparable results to LASIK, with a longer recovery. But if you want to avoid flap complications, if, for example, you’re an athlete, PRK may be more suitable.
Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE)
RLE is a vision correction procedure that is very different than LASIK or PRK. Instead of reshaping your cornea, it exchanges the lens inside your eye with a new one to enhance your vision.
While your corneas focus much of the light that enters your eye, your lenses contribute as well.
During RLE, an incision gets made in your cornea, so your surgeon can remove your lens. The lens gets broken down with a special instrument and removed with suction.
A new artificial lens then gets inserted into the same membrane that held your natural lens. The flap gets closed, and your recovery begins.
The intraocular lens or IOL that replaced your natural lens handles refraction. It can correct the light coming through your irregular cornea to focus it on your retina.
RLE is a good option if you cannot get corneal surgery or if your vision problems are due to unhealthy lenses.
Would you like to feel the visual freedom vision correction procedures provide? Schedule an appointment at Westlake Eye Specialists in Austin, TX, to discuss your options!