LASIK vs. PRK – What’s the Difference?
In a world dominated by corrective lenses and contacts, the idea that we can have unclouded vision for an affordable price is still relatively new. The technology is certainly there. In fact, both LASIK and PRK – two forms of laser eye surgery – have evolved significantly within the past decade. This evolution has brought forth better results, lower operating costs, and more much-needed information. The world, and potential patients rely on such information to make their own decision.
PRK, or photo refractive keratectomy, is a type of laser eye surgery designed to correct vision-related impairments, including nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. These are the three most common eye-related ailments in the entire world. PRK is something of the forefather of laser eye surgery. Without it, we most likely would not have such significant advances in the LASIK procedure.
Speaking of LASIK (or laser-assisted in-situ keratomileusis) this technology has proven extraordinary. It’s the procedure most patients choose. With the same results as PRK, LASIK is performed in a slightly different manner. Both surgeries work, both change the shape of the cornea, and yet the two are popular for distinct reasons.
LASIK is currently the most popular form of laser eye surgery. It’s the one procedure most patients ask for when considering their eyesight. In LASIK, the surgeon will make a small incision, using either a laser or scalpel, in the cornea. This incision is to create a flap of tissue. The flap is then lifted upwards, ensuring the laser can reshape the inner layer of the cornea. By reshaping the cornea, visual impairments such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism, eyesight can be corrected.
Once the cornea is successfully reshaped to the desired amount, the flap is returned to its original positioning. During the recovery process, the flap will heal over the reshaped cornea, thus improving your vision – both immediately and over time.
LASIK is the primary choice in laser eye surgery due to its outstanding benefits. For example:
- Patients typically do not feel any pain during the operation
- Vision improvements are noticed immediately. Around 95 percent of patients experience 20/40 vision or better, while 85 percent receive 20/20 vision
- LASIK takes just a few weeks to improve your vision entirely, and results are permanent
- Patients who undergo LASIK typically do not require glasses or contact lenses.
- Patients save money in the long-run, as they no longer have an obligation to update their eyeglass or contact lens prescriptions annually or every two years
During the PRK procedure, surgeons are not required to create a flap of the corneal tissue. Instead, an outer layer of the cornea is removed to expose the area to a laser. For patients with thin corneas or chronic dry eye syndrome, PRKs is the only viable option. LASIK requires numerous factors for patients to be considered as viable candidates. PRK does not have the same set of standards, though.
The most significant difference between the two is the initial discomfort and speed of recovery. Recovery from PRK requires slightly more time than LASIK, as the outer layer of the cornea requires more healing. During the healing process, PRK patients are offered prescription eye drops to combat infection and inflammation. These drops are prescribed for months after the fact.
While both PRK and LASIK perform, basically, the same job, PRK has been known to receive better results for those who are nearsighted. Furthermore, PRK has been found to help avoid harmful complications that may impact work or outdoor activities.
Those who enjoy working outdoors or playing sports will benefit from PRK more so than anyone else. PRK is a viable option for:
- Those with thin corneas
- Those with large pupils
- Anyone with corneal scars
- Anyone with epithelial basement membrane disease
For further benefits, speak with an eye care specialist. You’ll want to consider all possible outcomes and keep realistic expectations before undergoing any operation. PRK only works if you invest time in your own recovery, so adhere to all directions and prescriptions from your doctor.
If you’d like to schedule a consultation appointment with eye care specialists, contact Your Eye Specialists by calling 954-452-9922. We’re happy to discuss any questions or concerns you may have at this time!