Refractive Surgery Explained (LASIK, PRK, and RLE) – San Antonio, TX

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About Refractive Surgery

Refraction is the process of light passing through one object to another. When light passes through the eye (cornea and lens), the retina converts it into a message that is sent to the brain to interpret the image we are seeing. When a refraction error occurs, that means there is a problem with how light is traveling through the eye and being interpreted by the retina. This is usually the result of an abnormal shape of the cornea, advanced age, or the specific length of the eyeball. Refraction errors can cause visual impairments, including nearsightedness, farsightedness, age-related near vision loss, and astigmatism. Thanks to modern ocular care, these conditions can be improved with refractive surgery. Our highly trained eye surgeons, Dr. Allison Young, Dr. Kristin Held, and Dr. Teresa Whitney at Stone Oak Ophthalmology Center in San Antonio, TX, are exceptionally skilled in performing ocular surgeries, such as LASIK, PRK, and RLE to correct refraction disorders. 

Best Candidates

The best candidates for refractive correction surgery are typically 18 years of age or older, are in overall good health, and have vision impairments that prevent them from seeing properly. We offer three different types of refractive surgeries, including LASIK, PRK, and RLE. Since every patient will have varying needs, the specific type of surgery that is best for you will be determined after a comprehensive eye exam and diagnostic testing. Once our surgical team has evaluated your condition and discussed your unique lifestyle and personal preferences, we can make our recommendation on which procedure may be ideal for you. 

What to Expect

The types of refractive surgeries we perform at Stone Oak Ophthalmology Center include:

LASIK (laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis): This procedure is one of the most popular vision correction surgeries as it offers great results. During this surgery, the shape of the cornea is changed with an excimer laser to allow light to hit directly on the retina for improved vision. The laser will create a thin flap along the cornea, which is then pulled open so the laser can contour the cornea to the appropriate shape based on your unique prescription. This generally takes about 10 minutes with little to no downtime.

PRK (photorefractive keratectomy): This surgery was the standard treatment before LASIK became available. Today, it is still considered an effective method for corrective eye surgery and is an alternative for those who do not qualify for LASIK. This procedure is most often recommended for patients who have inadequate corneal thickness. Instead of creating a flap on the cornea (like in LASIK), a thin layer of epithelial tissue is removed entirely and the cornea is reshaped with the laser. The corneal tissue will grow back through natural regeneration within about a week.

RLE (refractive lens exchange): This procedure is a very simple technique that utilizes state-of-the-art laser technology to remove the eye's natural lens and replaces it with an artificial intraocular lens (IOL) to improve vision impairments. This is usually reserved for patients who have had vision changes due to advanced age. RLE is often completed within 15 minutes. 

Follow-Up

The healing and follow-up process will depend on the type of surgery that was performed and the unique patient case. However, we typically schedule a checkup for the following day after surgery to ensure there aren't any complications that need immediate attention. It's normal to experience mild blurring, double vision, and/or light sensitivity after your procedure, but these symptoms often improve with time. Additional follow-up appointments will be scheduled accordingly so we can safely and closely monitor your progress. 

Refractive Error Repair

Our ocular surgeons have helped restore and improve the vision of countless San Antonio patients and encourage you to call our office to schedule an appointment to see if refractive correction surgery is right for you. Although some patients may not qualify for LASIK surgery, we offer several alternatives that can bring great improvement. Reach out to Stone Oak Ophthalmology Center today to learn more. 

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*Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary from person to person. Images may contain models.