What to Do if LASIK Is Not an Option?

Dr. Russel Lazarus, February 22, 2022

Have you been told you don’t qualify for LASIK eye surgery? Consider these alternative methods of vision correction instead.

LASIK surgery has become increasingly popular in recent years, with many people choosing this type of corrective eye surgery to achieve clear vision without the need for eyeglasses or contact lenses.

But LASIK surgery isn’t suitable for everyone, and certain corneal and eye conditions can prevent you from being a candidate for this type of procedure.

If your eye doctor has told you that you’re not a candidate for LASIK, here are three other options to explore.

1. PRK laser 

PhotoRefractive Keratectomy (PRK) is another type of laser procedure used to correct nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism.

Your eye doctor may recommend PRK if you have thin or irregular corneas, a predisposition to dry eye syndrome, or if your lifestyle puts you at a greater risk for eye injuries.

What to expect during and after a PRK procedure

PRK laser surgery is performed as an outpatient procedure, under light sedative and topical anesthesia. The surgery is often performed on both eyes at the same time.

During the procedure, the outer layer of your cornea, the epithelium, will be removed, and the inner layers of your cornea reshaped with a laser.

Afterwards, a contact lens will be placed over your cornea to function as a bandage for the next few days, as your eye heals and the epithelium regrows.

Recovery from PRK laser surgery generally takes a few days, and eye pain or discomfort post surgery is well managed with medications and eye drops.

Most eye doctors recommend taking at least a week off from work and refraining from driving, until your eyes are fully healed.

It can take a few weeks for your vision to stabilize, but PRK can help you achieve the same long lasting results as LASIK.

SEE RELATED: Alternatives to LASIK

If you have been told that LASIK is not for you, speak to an eye doctor near you about alternative options.

Find an eye doctor near you

2. ICL 

Implantable collamer lens (ICL) surgery has become a popular alternative to LASIK.

This procedure is generally recommended for patients ages 21 to 50, with moderate to severe myopia and/or astigmatism, whose vision has been stable for at least a year.

The ICL procedure involves implanting an artificial lens inside the eye, surgically placed in front of the eye’s natural lens. The natural lens remains in place. The ICL lens is inserted through a self-healing incision, so stitches are unnecessary.

What to expect during and after an ICL procedure

ICL surgery is performed as an outpatient procedure, under light sedation with topical anesthesia. Both eyes are usually corrected at the same time.

Your intraocular pressure will be closely monitored for a couple of hours following the procedure and you will be prescribed antibiotic and anti-inflammatory eye drops to be used for several weeks.

Follow up appointments will then be scheduled for 1 day, 10 days, 1 month and 3 months after your surgery. If you require laser vision enhancement for any residual refractive error, your eye doctor will likely perform this procedure after your 3-month follow up visit.

Recovery post-ICL surgery is typically fairly quick, but it is recommended to take a few days off from work and driving to rest your eyes and promote healing.

Most people notice improved visual clarity immediately after the procedure, and continued improvement for several days until ultra-high definition visual clarity is achieved.

3. Lens replacement surgery

Lens replacement surgery is the same procedure as cataract surgery, and is generally recommended for early cataracts, presbyopia or a lens condition requiring replacement, such as stage II Dysfunctional Lens syndrome (DLS).

Lens replacement surgery involves replacing your eye’s natural lens with an artificial lens containing your unique optical prescription.

What to expect during and after lens replacement surgery

Lens replacement surgery is performed as an outpatient procedure, under topical anesthesia.

Your eye surgeon will schedule two separate procedures for each of your eyes, typically about a week apart.

During the procedure, your surgeon will remove your eye’s natural lens and replace it with an artificial lens that accommodates your eye’s unique measurements and optical prescription.

Most patients report noticeable vision improvement immediately after surgery.

With this procedure, you can expect to resume driving and other regular activities within a week.

To learn more about lens replacement surgery, please see What to Expect With Cataract Surgery.

LEARN MORE: Guide to Laser Refractive Surgery

If you aren’t a candidate for LASIK surgery, contact an eye doctor near you to learn about LASIK alternatives.

LASIK surgery isn’t suitable for everyone as some corneal and eye conditions may prevent you from being a candidate for this type of procedure. 

If you’re not a candidate for LASIK, there are other options to explore.