Author: Dr Val Phua MBBS, MMed (Ophth), FRCOphth, FAMS
Photo by: Icons8 Team
Going through LASIK is often a life-changing experience. I remember waking up to a clear view of my bedroom, not needing to search and reach out for my glasses or struggle to put on contact lenses before being able to see well. It was a moment of deep gratitude for my restored sight and new found freedom. This is an experience that many who have been through LASIK share. It is then expectedly disappointing or even frustrating for those who have made the effort to plan their time and leave in such anticipation, only to be told that their eyes were not so suitable for LASIK.
What are some reasons that make one not so suitable for LASIK? This includes having corneas that are too steep or too flat, having astigmatism that is “irregular” and having signs of keratoconus (a disorder characterised by progressive thinning and changes in the shape of the cornea), having degrees that are too high or corneas that are too thin. In some of these cases, proceeding with LASIK may be dangerous because the cornea becomes too weak structurally and progressively reshapes over time. This can show itself in the form of increasing astigmatism with time.
Keep your chin up because there are alternatives which may suit you. The first of these is the PRK (Photorefractive keratectomy) procedure. Unlike LASIK, there is no flap created in the cornea and because of this, the whole process is more tissue saving and leaves the cornea stronger than it would be with LASIK and it also avoids the risk of flap related complications including flap dislodgement, flap striae, interface haze and infection. The downside of this is that recovery is slightly more uncomfortable in the first 3-5 days and that vision takes a longer time (up to 3 months) to stablilise.
Another increasingly popular alternative is the implantable collamer lens (ICL) procedure. In this procedure, all the degree in the eye including astigmatism is corrected using a specially designed contact lens which sits behind the iris (the brown part of the eye in most asians) and in front of the natural lens of the eye. The procedure itself is simple and painless and takes about 15 minutes for each eye. Vision is rapidly restored with many attaining 20/20 vision the next day. Recovery is also fast with minimal discomfort. The major advantage of this procedure is that firstly, it completely spares the cornea from any permanent structural changes that would have been induced with any of the laser procedures and secondly, the procedure is reversible if needed.
Whilst these alternatives to LASIK keeps that hope of glasses freedom going, a thorough assessment and examination is still needed before deciding which is best to help achieve your vision goals. Book a consultation and let us help you along this journey.