Skip to content

Eye Health Center

Font Size

Laser Not the Only Option for Nearsightedness

By
WebMD Health News

March 30, 2000 (New York) -- Everyone's doing it. Getting laser eye surgery, that is.

Laser eye surgery is all the rage today, and as many as 800,000 Americans will throw away their eyeglasses and contacts lenses after they undergo laser eye surgery this year.

But at least one leading eye surgeon says that for certain people with low levels of nearsightedness, or myopia, a newer procedure involving Intacs may be the way to go.

The first FDA-approved option for correcting mild nearsightedness without a laser, Intacs are two tiny half rings that are placed within each eye to gently reshape the cornea, which is the transparent tissue covering the front of the eye. In the nearsighted eye, the cornea is too steep, but the Intacs remedy this problem.

"[Putting in] Intacs is almost a cosmetic procedure for people who can see OK without glasses, but want extra crispness to their vision," says Brian S. Boxer Wachler, MD, director of the UCLA Refractive Center at the Jules Stein Eye Institute in Los Angeles.

While LASIK eye surgery (laser in situ keratomileusis) also corrects mild nearsightedness, "the big difference between Intacs and LASIK is that Intacs are removable and easily adjustable in the future," he tells WebMD.

Because it is a newer procedure, Intacs are not as widely available as the laser surgery and may be more expensive, he adds.

During LASIK surgery, the cornea is cut with a blade in a circular pattern so it can be lifted and held back to show the tissue underneath. Then some corneal tissue is removed using a laser.

LASIK surgery, however, is not without its risks -- namely decreased night vision and dry eyes. "People with low degrees of nearsightedness are often afraid of having a risky, drastic procedure like LASIK on their eyes," Boxer Wachler tells WebMD.

But some people, including Jessica Mulrain, 30, still opt for LASIK surgery. "I had LASIK in August 1999 to correct mild nearsightedness," she tells WebMD. "The results were immediate and fantastic. My friends don't even recognize me without my glasses."

While Intacs were not offered to Mulrain, she says she would still undergo LASIK because she is so happy with the results. "I didn't have any of the side effects that I was warned about either," she says.

"It's really a decision based on whether people want to stay with LASIK, a procedure that has been around longer and that they know people who have undergone, or try a newer technology that has the potential for removability or adjustability down the road," says Daniel Durrie, MD, director of refractory surgery for the Hunckler Eye Center in Kansas City, Mo. "Some people may choose Intacs because it provides them with the ability to change for a better technology if one is developed in 10 years or so," he tells WebMD.

Today on WebMD

Woman holding tissue to reddened eye
Learn about causes, symptoms, and treatments.
eye
Simple annoyance or the sign of a problem?
 
red eyes
Symptoms, triggers, and treatments.
blue eye with contact lens
Tips for wearing and caring.
 
Understanding Stye
Article
human eye
Article
 
eye
Video
eye exam timing
Video
 
vision test
Tool
is vision correction surgery for you
Article
 
high tech contacts
Article
eye drop
Article
 

Special Sections