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LASIK Alternatives

Refractive Treatment Options

It seems forever ago when glasses and contacts were the only options available to correct refractive conditions such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. We’ve come a long way and are fortunate to offer our patients in the Minneapolis areas the latest technologies and advancements in the field of laser vision correction.

In addition to LASIK, the most well-known refractive procedure, the surgeons at Minnesota Eye Consultants are thrilled to offer a variety of alternative refractive treatment options for those who are not ideal LASIK candidates.

Below are some common vision treatment options, including the alternatives that we offer right here at Minnesota Eye Consultants.


IntraLase, or laser in-situ keratomileusis, is the fastest-growing and most accepted form of laser vision correction. The surgery can treat both nearsightedness and farsightedness with or without astigmatism. LASIK tends to have the quickest recovery when compared to other refractive procedures. For more information, please visit our LASIK Center.

PRK (Photorefractive Keratectomy)

Photorefractive Keratectomy (PRK) is similar in many ways, however, this treatment doesn’t involve creating a flap. Instead, the surface cells are gently removed, the cornea is treated with a cool laser, and a bandage contact lens is placed afterward for approximately 5-7 days. This contact lens acts as the flap would, protecting the eye as it heals.

LASIK and PRK provide the same visual effect and long-term outcomes, however, the visual results following PRK take longer to achieve. And since we’re removing surface cells from the cornea, most patients experience more discomfort following PRK than they would LASIK.

We do provide a pain reliever following surgery to help with this discomfort, but most patients return to work and their normal daily activities within a few days.

This alternative is effective in treating low to moderate levels of myopia or hyperopia with or without astigmatism.

Phototherapeutic Keratectomy (PTK)

This same treatment (PRK) can actually be performed for medical reasons, such as removing a corneal scar or addressing a corneal injury and is then considered a Phototherapeutic Keratectomy (PTK). In these instances, we can submit a prior authorization to your insurance company in the hopes of having them cover the procedure under your medical insurance plan. You can find additional information on PTK by visiting our other cornea procedures page.

EVO Visian ICL

Phakic Intraocular Lenses (Phakic IOLs) are artificial lens implants that are placed inside the eye while your natural lens remains intact. Although the first type of this technology was FDA approved for the treatment of myopia or nearsightedness in 2004, the physicians and surgeons at Minnesota Eye Consultants have been implanting these lenses for the treatment of high degrees of nearsightedness and farsightedness since 1998 as part of the multi-center, national research studies.

Patients who would benefit from this particular refractive surgery are those who have a strong glasses prescription, thin corneas, or prefer a non-laser vision correction. The surgical technique is similar to that used in cataract surgery, the major difference being that the natural lens is not removed and remains functional.

A common phakic lens used at Minnesota Eye Consultants is the EVO Visian ICL.” The advantage of Phakic lenses is that they can correct your vision, yet no natural tissue is removed in any way during the procedure. If for the unlikely reason you need or wish to remove your Phakic lens implant in the future, you have the option to do so.

EVO Visian ICL

The EVO Visian ICL is inserted behind the iris and in front of your natural lens. Similar to cataract surgery, this procedure is typically performed one eye at a time. There is very little discomfort and normally no pain associated with the surgery. You’ll be instructed to use eye drops following and we’ll see you back the following day for a follow-up visit.

EVO Visian ICL is the newest ICL available at Minnesota Eye Consultants. Also called an Implantable Collamer® Lens, the EVO Visian ICL is a refractive implant to correct common vision issues like myopia (nearsightedness) with or without astigmatism. Learn more about the EVO Visian ICL.

Natural Lens Replacement (NLR)

A Natural Lens Replacement (NLR) is essentially cataract surgery without the actual cataract present. (Some also refer to this procedure as a Clear Lens Extraction or CLE.) Because there isn’t a cataract present (or developed enough for insurance to deem the surgery as ‘medically necessary’), this procedure is considered elective and out-of-pocket.

It is, however, a great option for patients who aren’t ideal candidates for Laser Vision Correction. For example, for some patients with high refractive errors outside the treatable range, or those who have some cataract formation already, a Natural Lens Replacement can be an effective refractive surgery alternative.

During this procedure, the natural lens is removed and replaced with an intraocular lens of your choice. Your physician will educate you on the various lens options to choose from, but depending on your visual goal, a specialty lens may be recommended.

In some patients, a Multifocal or Extended Depth of Focus lens may be helpful in improving distance at various ranges, while others may opt for distance vision (or near) in both eyes. Another common selection is MonoVision, where one eye is corrected for near vision and the other eye for distance. Talk with your surgeon about what lens options are best for you, considering your personal vision goals following surgery.

Astigmatic Keratotomy (AK)

Astigmatic Keratotomy (AK) is performed to treat astigmatism by reshaping the curvature of the cornea through small incisions. These tiny incisions will flatten the steep portion of the cornea, making the eye more spherical. AK can be used as an enhancement following laser eye surgery, PRK, cataract, or lens implant surgery. Most astigmatism, though, is still corrected with the excimer laser. For more information on AK, visit our Other Cornea Procedures page.