Photorefractive Keratectomy, or PRK, is a specific type of laser vision correction. It is also referred to surface ablation. In other words, it does not involve creating a corneal flap. Instead, only the thin surface layer of the cornea, the epithelium, is removed to expose the underlying tissue.
The epithelium is usually removed by loosening its adhesions with a dilute alcohol solution, then gently brushing it away. The underlying corneal tissue can then be sculpted with the excimer laser.
The epithelium grows back and heals on its own over a few days. This can be an excellent alternative to patients who have thin corneas and other contraindications for LASIK.
The ICL is a new intraocular lens that can be implanted into the eye without removing the natural lens. This lens is an excellent choice for younger patients (ideally between ages 21-45) who are not presbyopic (i.e. do not need reading glasses) and need or desire an alternative to laser vision correction surgery.
The ICL is implanted through a microscopic incision that requires no stitches and does not alter the natural shape or health of the cornea. It can remain inside the eye indefinitely. If the patient is unhappy with their vision, or if the vision changes significantly, the lens can be removed.
Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE) refers to the technique by which a patient’s natural lens is removed prior to the development of cataracts, and replaced with an implant lens.
This procedure can be done to correct presbyopia— the need for reading glasses (see Crystalens and Restor lens) or in cases where the patient is not a good candidate for laser vision correction surgery. The technique is essentially the same as cataract surgery.
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