What most people might not realize is that there are several different types of laser vision corrective surgery. While most of the types of Lasik and other laser vision correction surgeries are similar, there are some slight differences that are important to note.
The first type of laser vision correction is PRK, or photorefractive keratectomy. PRK was the first type of laser vision correction, invented in the early 1980s. PRK works much the same way as Lasik, but improvement and recovery may take longer than Lasik. More discomfort may be experienced with PRK as, with this procedure, deeper layers of the cornea are exposed.
There is one major difference between Lasik and PRK. With Lasik, a flap is made at the front of the eye using a microkeratome that is put back in its place after the laser vision correction is finished. With PRK, the laser completely removes this outer layer of the cornea.
One of the other types of laser vision correction goes by a few different names. Custom Lasik, wavefront Lasik, and wavefront-guided Lasik are all the same method of taking Lasik technology a step further. With custom Lasik, a 3-D map is created showing how well an eye processes images and is used to guide the laser to repair any irregularities. This type of laser vision correction is said to produce an outcome of better vision with fewer risks than traditional Lasik.
Epi-Lasik is a type of laser vision correction that is just slightly different that traditional Lasik. Instead of using the thin blade of the microkeratome to create the flap at the front of the eye, a blunt plastic tool called an epithelial separator is used. The epithelial separator is used to displace the flap instead of using alcohol, which is used in some laser vision corrective surgeries and can kill epithelial cells.
Lasek is a type of laser vision correction that should not be confused with Lasik. Lasek differs from Lasik in that, instead of using a microkeratome to cut the flap at the front of the eye, a very fine blade called a trephine is used. After the flap is cut, an alcohol solution is applied to loosen the edges to allow for an easier flap removal.
A fifth type of laser vision correction is IntraLace Lasik. IntraLace Lasik is a blade-free method of laser vision corrective surgery. With traditional Lasik, a microkeratome is used to create a flap in the cornea, and then a cold beam laser is used to reshape the cornea to repair vision. With InraLace Lasik, two lasers are used to complete the procedure. A second laser is used to create the flap, instead of using a blade. The same type of laser used with traditional Lasik is then used to reshape the cornea.
There are several types of laser vision correction available today, with some new techniques that are still considered to be experimental. Different surgeons prefer some methods over others, and the best technique for the individual patient should be considered. Each type of laser vision correction has its own benefits and risks involved so care should be taken to choose the best one for a specific condition. Concerns and questions should be fully addressed during pre-surgical counseling to ensure the best decision is made.