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LASIK & PRK

Both PRK and LASIK are surgical procedures that correct nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism. These procedures are designed to remodel the cornea to help improve a patient’s refractive state and eliminate their dependency on glasses or contact lenses. If you are currently wearing a bifocal or no-line bifocal progressive lens, you may be eligible for this procedure; however, you will still be reliant on reading glasses after refractive surgery. Your distance vision will be fully corrected. Both procedures use laser technology to change the curvature of the cornea and produce similar outcomes. The main difference between them is that with LASIK, a flap is created with the cornea, and in PRK, there is no need to make a flap.

In LASIK, the flap is created by making an incision into the cornea with either a laser or a blade. The flap of tissue is lifted so the laser can be applied to reshape the inner layers of the cornea. Once the surgical laser changes the curvature to correct your refractive prescription, the flap is put back in place and the cornea heals itself within a few days without any stitches.

Although LASIK has become more popular than PRK today, PRK does offer some advantages over LASIK. Because PRK does not require creating a thin, hinged flap on the cornea, there are no risks of surgical flap complications. LASIK also requires a minimum corneal thickness, and this minimum increases depending on how high your prescription is. PRK is a safer option for patients whose corneas do not meet this requirement for LASIK. PRK is also a better option for patients with chronically dry eyes. Instead of making a corneal flap, in PRK, only a thin layer of the outer cornea is removed. The outer layer of the cornea is regenerative and does not damage nerves that detect dryness and stimulate tear production. Creating a flap involves cutting into deeper corneal layers that damage those nerves. That’s why dryness is a common issue post-operatively after LASIK.

PRK is a better option for patients who suffer from dry eyes. The only main drawback when compared to LASIK is the initial discomfort and speed of visual recovery. The discomfort following PRK can last for several days to a few weeks, while with LASIK; discomfort is typically mild and usually short term. PRK can take up to six months for vision to reach optimal acuity and clarity, whereas some LASIK patients can see normally after several hours after the procedure and gradually reach peak quality in a few months. You can also expect to use prescription eye drops that help promote healing for several months with PRK and only a few weeks with LASIK.

PRK is also a better option for active patients, or patients that have a risk of having any type of trauma to their eyes. The military opts for PRK over LASIK surgery for this reason. If you are poked in the eye, there is no potential for flap dislocation which can cause sight problems in the future.

Both surgeries are safe and effective and carry a very high rate of patient satisfaction. It is important to consult with an experienced eye surgeon to help make your decision. Dr. Jennifer Lee is a board certified ophthalmologist who specializes in PRK and has performed over thousands of cases. Schedule a consultation with us if you are interested in refractive eye surgery and we can help you determine what the best choice is for your eyes.

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