PRK laser eye surgery (Photorefractive Keratectomy) is a type of laser vision surgery used for the correction of nearsightedness (myopia), farsightedness (hyperopia), and astigmatism. It is an alternative to LASIK, most often recommended if a patient’s corneas are too thin to make LASIK a safe option for them. PRK was actually the first type of laser vision surgery and is the predecessor from which LASIK was created.
PRK vs. LASIK: How is PRK different from LASIK?
What makes PRK different from LASIK is in how the cornea is prepared. During PRK eye surgery, a thin layer of corneal tissue (epithelium) on the surface of the eye is gently removed. This exposes the cornea to be reshaped by the laser. The laser application to reshape the cornea is just the same as with LASIK and once completed, a contact lens is placed over the eye. This contact lens acts as a bandage, protecting the eye for the few days during epithelial regeneration.
When is PRK a better choice than LASIK?
PRK is most commonly recommended to patients who aren’t safe candidates for LASIK due to their lack of corneal thickness. The corneal thickness is determined during the FREE LASIK examination and at this time the doctor will recommend the best procedure to correct your vision.
PRK does have added benefits for some patients, regardless of their corneal thickness though. PRK may also be presented as an option for patients who suffer from chronic dry eye, or those who work in certain professions like firefighting/police or participate in certain activities like boxing/MMA where a risk of eye injury is higher and therefore the risk of flap damage following LASIK is possible.
LASIK is the most commonly performed laser eye surgery to treat hyperopia (farsightedness), as well as myopia (nearsightedness) and astigmatism.
Hyperopia is the medical term for “farsightedness”. Being farsighted means you can see far away objects well without the use of glasses or contact lenses, but your near vision is blurry. This is caused by the shape of the cornea being too flat, causing light to focus on a hypothetical point behind the retina.
The LASIK correction of farsightedness is accomplished by steepening the central cornea, thus allowing light to focus correctly on the retina. During the procedure, pulses of cool, ultra-violet light are emitted from a computer-guided Excimer laser to remove corneal cells according to your unique prescription.
LASIK is one of the most common laser correction surgeries to correct astigmatism.
If you have astigmatism, without corrective lenses you experience overall blurry vision, shadowing, or distortion of your vision. Astigmatism is a refractive error caused by the cornea having an oval, or football shape resulting in light focusing on multiple points around the retina rather than a single point on the retina.
The LASIK correction of astigmatism is accomplished by smoothing out the irregularities of the cornea at the precise points of astigmatism, thus allowing light to focus correctly on the retina. During the procedure, pulses of cool, ultra-violet light are emitted from a computer-guided Excimer laser to remove corneal cells according to your unique prescription.
LASIK is the most commonly performed laser eye surgery to treat myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness) and astigmatism.
Myopia is the medical term for “nearsightedness”. Being nearsighted means you can see near objects well without the use of glasses or contact lenses, but your distance vision is blurry. Myopia affects about one out of every 3 or 4 people.
In order to correct nearsightedness with LASIK, the steep parts of the cornea, which cause the refractive error are flattened using cool pulses of ultraviolet light emitted by the laser, thus allowing light to focus directly on the retina in the back of the eye.
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The initial step, just like with LASIK, is attending your FREE, comprehensive LASIK examination at LasikPlus. This exam will be similar to an exam you may have had prior to getting glasses or contact lenses but includes additional testing specific to laser vision surgery. Through this testing, we will learn many factors, which include the general health of your eye, your corneal thickness and pupil diameter, and your corneal topography (which is like the fingerprint of your eye as no one topography is the same). Our doctor will also ask you questions about your lifestyle and hobbies. All of these learnings combined to allow us to provide you with the best treatment option specific for your vision correction needs.Take Candidacy Quiz Now
After your initial testing is complete, the doctor will provide you with a customized treatment plan. This plan will include if you are a candidate for LASIK or PRK eye surgery. Details of your surgery plan will be provided, including what to expect on your treatment day as well as the healing process after surgery. Our goal is to ensure you are well informed about your candidacy and treatment plan.
Our coordinators will schedule your surgery date to get you on your way to 20/20 vision* as soon as possible. If you are interested in using our guaranteed financing‡, they will also help you apply and find the plan that fits your budget.LASIK Self Test: Find Out if LASIK is Right for You
On the day of your procedure, you will complete any final paperwork and we will begin to prep you for your procedure. Your eyes will be numbed using anesthetic drops (no other sedation is required). You will be taken into the laser suite, where your procedure will start. You will only be in the suite for about 15-minutes, it is that fast! Unlike with LASIK, where a corneal flap is created, with PRK the cells on the front of the cornea are gently wiped from the eye, thus exposing the cornea for the laser application. The laser process of removing corneal tissue to reshape the cornea is just the same as with LASIK.
Once the procedure is completed, a contact lens bandage will be placed in your eye. This lens will protect your eye during the healing process, allowing the epithelial cells on the front of the cornea to regenerate. The contact lens is typically worn for about 5 days.
While your time in the laser suite is only about 15-minutes, you should plan to be with us for 90-minutes to 2-hours to allow time for paperwork, prepping, the surgery, and the post-treatment check of your eyes.Take Candidacy Quiz Now
Upon leaving the center after your procedure, you will be asked to go home and take a nap for a few hours. When you wake up, your eyes will be sensitive and your vision will be a bit blurry. You should start using your drops as prescribed by the medical team. These drops will minimize post-procedural discomfort and speed-up the healing process. You should anticipate some vision fluctuations, especially for the first 3-5 days as your eyes are healing.
You will be scheduled for a few, quick post-operative visits with us, which will include the removal of your contact lens bandage and checks to ensure your eyes are healing as planned. This will also allow you time to ask any questions you may have about your healing process.LASIK Self-Test: Find Out if LASIK is Right for You
What is the recovery time after PRK?
One difference between LASIK and PRK is the recovery time. Patients having PRK should expect a slightly longer healing time, during which that may experience vision blurriness during the initial days of healing, and may experience brief periods of discomfort or irritation as the epithelial cells regrow. Prescribed anti-inflammatory and lubricating drops will minimize post-procedural discomfort and speed-up the healing process. As with LASIK eye surgery, the end results are improved vision.
Is PRK Laser Eye Surgery Painful?
As with LASIK, due to the use of anaesthetic numbing drops used, you won’t feel anything, other than light pressure, during the procedure itself. Patients report feeling some mild discomfort and irritation following their PRK procedure, but state it is tolerable. This irritation can be alleviated by the use of lubricating drops and over-the-counter pain relievers are prescribed by your surgeon. The discomfort is most noticeable in the few days immediately following the procedure and abate over time.
Do I have to be awake during LASIK or PRK?
We understand that the concept of having someone do something to your eyes can be unsettling, but rest assured, you don’t experience pain. Since the eyes are easily numbed with anaesthetic numbing drops, you won’t feel pain. Being asleep during LASIK eye surgery would actually be detrimental as in order for the cool-pulses of laser light to reshape the cornea in the right places of your eye, you will be asked to focus on a blinking light during the very short procedure (less than a 60 seconds per eye).
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