LASIK & LASIK Alternatives

The minute you are diagnosed with nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism (refractive errors), glasses or contact lenses become a daily way of life. While these vision tools can greatly improve your vision, they definitely limit you from certain activities. In addition, the constant costs of maintaining glasses and contacts can take a toll on your finances. The cornea and lens are the optical elements that focus light in your eye. LASIK and PRK modify the shape of the cornea, and Refractive Lens Exchange replaces the natural lens with a lens implant.

At Pendleton Eye Center, we offer several vision procedures to correct refractive errors:

  • All Laser, Custom LASIK
  • PRK
  • Refractive Lens Exchange

A Difference You Can See

Dr. Pendleton has performed thousands of refractive procedures since 1994.

Refractive Errors Explained

  • Emmetropia: the absence of a refractive error.  Emmetropia is the goal of refractive surgery.
  • Nearsightedness (Myopia): the eye is too long or the cornea is too steeply curved. Light passes through the eye but focuses before it reaches the retina, which causes distant objects to appear blurry.
  • Farsightedness (Hyperopia): the eye is too short or the cornea is relatively flat. Before light has covered enough distance to focus, it reaches the retina, which causes images that are close at hand to be blurred.  Depending upon age and the ability to accommodate, distant objects usually appear blurry as well.
  • Astigmatism: the cornea is oval-shaped like a football. When light passes through the cornea, it focuses in more than one place relative to the retina, which causes images near or far to appear blurred and distorted.

Vision Disorders

All Laser, Custom LASIK

LASIK is performed to slightly alter the shape of the cornea so light entering the eye will land directly on the retina. Dr. Robert Pendleton uses an all laser, custom LASIK technique that usually takes less than 10 minutes per eye.

  • Step 1: The corneal flap is created from a thin segment of the outer layer of the cornea. Dr. Pendleton uses a special computer-controlled femtosecond laser to create a thinner, more precise and more stable flap than can be made using a manual technique.
  • Step 2: The flap is lifted and the excimer laser is used to reshape the underlying corneal tissue to correct any irregularities. This step in Custom LASIK is based on an individual 3-D map of your eye, which is then programmed into the laser so that the exact amount of corneal tissue is removed to yield the best vision possible.
  • Step 3: The flap is folded back into place where it bonds quickly. Healing is rapid with LASIK, and most people can return to work the very next day.

All surgical procedures entail some risk.  The FDA has an informative description of the risks of Lasik surgery


For patients with thin corneas or prior eye surgery, photorefractive keratectomy (PRK) may be a safer alternative to LASIK. FDA approved since 1995, this procedure uses the same excimer laser technology to reshape the cornea so light entering the eye will focus on the retina.

However, instead of creating a corneal flap as in LASIK, Dr. Pendleton removes a layer of cells from the surface of the cornea (the epithelium) to allow access to the underlying corneal tissue. Because the epithelium tissue needs time to regrow, recovery from PRK is longer than LASIK, and may take several days. There may also be slightly more discomfort but the final vision outcome will be comparable to what can be achieved with LASIK. This procedure typically takes about 5 minutes per eye.

Refractive Lens Exchange

If you are over 55 years of age and have an interest in refractive surgery a Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE) procedure may be more suitable for you than Lasik or PRK. Refractive Lens Exchange involves the removal of your natural lens so it can be replaced with an artificial lens, called an Intraocular Lens (IOL). In general, if you are over age 55, refractive lens exchange is a superior procedure to LASIK because there are lens implants available that can correct both distance and near vision in each eye; LASIK can only correct you for either distance or near vision. There are different types of IOLs available; the right one for you will depend on your lifestyle, vision goals, and eye health. Dr. Pendleton will help you make the right determination for your unique situation.

There are many different types of IOLs available including Extended Depth of Focus, Multifocal and Multifocal-Toric lenses; the right one for you will depend on your lifestyle, vision goals, and eye health. Dr. Pendleton will help you make the right determination for your unique situation. Refractive lens exchange is identical to cataract surgery, except that it is performed before cataracts have developed.

Refractive Lens Exchange is a permanent and maintenance-free vision correction option with a quick visual recovery time. It takes approximately 15-20 minutes per eye and also prevents you from getting cataracts in the future.

Learn the risks of refractive surgery: Risk Information

To find out if LASIK or PRK in Carlsbad, California, is right for you, contact us today to schedule a comprehensive evaluation.