Laser Not the Only Option for Nearsightedness
March 30, 2000 (New York) -- Everyone's doing it. Getting laser eye surgery,
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
"[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
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