LASIK is the most well-known laser vision correction procedure, but there are other kinds of laser eye surgeries that are not as commonly known. Photo Refractive Keratectomy (PRK) is another type of laser eye procedure. For some people, PRK is a more desired option due to the shape of the eye, thickness of the cornea, amount of prescription needed to treat and overall health of the eye.
The end goal of any laser eye surgery is to promote better vision. PRK eye surgery was actually developed before LASIK, however, both procedures are recommended daily. The purpose of PRK and LASIK is to reshape the cornea, which affects how the eye focuses light. The aim of both procedures is to address vision problems like nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism by gently reshaping the cornea with a laser. When a patient is having PRK or LASIK the same pre-op examination will be done, the same excimer laser will be utilized and the same end result will be achieved, less dependency on contacts and glasses.
The big difference between LASIK and PRK laser eye surgery is the surgery technique or in other words how the eye is prepared for surgery. With LASIK, the surgeon creates a hinged flap by making an incision in the cornea. This flap gives the surgeon access to the part of the cornea that needs to be reshaped. Once the procedure is finished, the surgeon will put the flap back in place. With PRK, there is no flap. Instead, the thin, outermost layer of the cornea, called the epithelium, is gently removed to provide the necessary access to the part of the cornea that the doctor reshapes with the laser. The epithelium regenerates naturally within a few days.
Healing occurs quickly after LASIK surgery (hence why LASIK is so popular), while PRK takes a little longer to heal. Patients often report more discomfort from having PRK than from having LASIK, but it is temporary. While the healing time is different between the two procedures, the expected results over time are the same. PRK patients are commonly given prescription pain medications to help mitigate any discomfort.
PRK and LASIK are more alike than they are different, but the differences are important. If LASIK is not the best procedure for you, due to your unique eye characteristics and/or lifestyle, PRK may provide another option for laser vision correction. As always, please remember that it is crucial to speak with your refractive surgeon before making any decision on how to proceed with any laser vision correction procedure.
At Atlantic Eye Institute, we have state of the art diagnostic technology to aid the surgeon in making the best recommendation for your vision correction. We have three refractive surgeons who work as a team to plan your treatment. At Atlantic Eye Institute, your eyes are our focus!
To find out more about the types of laser vision correction please visit our LASIK page or call and schedule a free consultation with one of our LASIK surgeons today.