Skip to main menu Skip to main content Skip to footer
Online bill pay
Request an Appointment
MEC patient portal
(952) 888-5800
For Physicians

LASIK Alternatives

Refractive Vision Options

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

In addition to the well-known procedure, the refractive specialists at Minnesota Eye Consultants are thrilled to offer a variety of refractive treatment options. Not everyone is an ideal candidate for the LASIK procedure.

Maybe your corneas are too thin, or you have a small scar on the surface of your eye, maybe you’re battling presbyopia and are searching for a solution to reading glasses, or maybe you have the start of cataracts.

Regardless of the reasoning, our surgeons will educate you on each option they feel makes sense for your eyes and visual goals. With the most sophisticated and precise testing, lasers, and equipment at our fingertips, we’re confident we can find the right refractive eye procedure for you.

When LASIK is not the right fit for you, we offer the following refractive vision correction alternatives right here at Minnesota Eye Consultants. Read on for more about these options.

  • Photorefractive Keratectomy (PRK)
  • Phototherapeutic Keratectomy (PTK)
  • Phakic Intraocular Lenses
  • EVO Visian ICL
  • Natural Lens Replacement (NLR)
  • Astigmatic Keratotomy (AK)


Photorefractive Keratectomy (PRK) is similar to LASIK 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 with 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.

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

Phototherapeutic Keratectomy (PTK)

When PRK is performed for medical reasons, such as removing a corneal scar or addressing a corneal injury, it is 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.

Phakic Intraocular Lens Implant (Phakic IOL)

Visian ICL Logo and Lens

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.

Using a topical or local anesthetic, your surgeon will create a small incision in your eye and insert the lens using specialized instruments. The exact technique and placement of the implant will differ depending on the type of lens implant chosen.

While an increase in vision may be noticed soon after the procedure, you won’t fully realize the visual benefits of the implant for 6 to 8 weeks following the procedure, during which time your eye is healing. In some individuals, another type of vision correction may be chosen to further enhance the vision.

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. 

Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE)

Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE) is essentially cataract surgery without the actual cataract present. (Some also refer to this procedure as a Clear Lens Extraction (CLE) or Natural Lens Replacement). 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 Refractive Lens Exchange 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.

For some patients, a specialty lens such as a Multifocal, Extended Depth of Focus lens, Light Adjustable Lens, and others, may be helpful in improving distance at various ranges. 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.


Serving Our Community

Minnesota Eye Consultants is proud to offer patients convenient access to eye care across the Twin Cities. We have 5 locations, each with an onsite ambulatory surgery center (ASC).

11091 Ulysses St NE
Clinic: Suite 300
ASC: Suite 400
Blaine, Minnesota 55434
Additional Blaine Information
12501 Whitewater Drive (East Building)
Suite 310
Minnetonka, MN 55343
Additional Crosstown Information
10709 Wayzata Blvd
ASC: Suite 100
Laser Procedures: Suite 120
Clinic: Suite 200
Minnetonka, MN 55305
Additional Minnetonka Information
9801 Dupont Ave S
ASC: Suite 100
Laser Procedures: Suite 120
Clinic: Suite 200
Bloomington, MN 55431
Additional Bloomington Information
7125 Tamarack Rd
Clinic: Suite 100
ASC: Suite 200
Laser Procedures: Suite 250
Woodbury, MN 55125
Additional Woodbury Information