If you’re considering laser vision correction, you have likely heard of LASIK. While LASIK is the most commonly performed surgical procedure to correct nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism, it is not the only choice you have. Photorefractive keratectomy or PRK is a laser vision correction procedure that corrects the same refractive errors as LASIK does. Still, LASIK and PRK have distinct differences that all patients should know about.
Read on as Dr. Farooq Ashraf discusses LASIK and PRK in detail.
LASIK uses an excimer laser to reshape the cornea. First, a thin, hinged flap is created on the surface of the cornea to access the underlying corneal tissue. The excimer laser removes a small amount of tissue and reshapes it as needed. The cornea’s new shape allows it to better focus light on the retina, restoring clearer vision. The LASIK procedure can be completed in about 10 minutes. Most patients are able to resume normal activities within 24 hours and see an improvement in their vision the day after surgery.
Like LASIK, PRK reshapes the cornea using an excimer laser. But unlike LASIK, PRK does not create a thin flap on the cornea. Instead, it removes the thin outer layer of the cornea called the epithelium to be able to access the underlying tissue. The laser then reshapes the cornea as needed. The epithelium repairs itself within a few days after surgery. PRK takes about 15 minutes to complete. Because the epithelium layer needs to regenerate itself, the recovery process for PRK can take up to 48 hours.
Advantages of LASIK and PRK
The main advantage that LASIK has over PRK is that recovery tends to be shorter. Patients are able to drive, read and use the computer as normal within a day after LASIK. On the other hand, PRK is a great choice for patients with extremely thin corneas or irregular astigmatism, and those who have had prior eye surgery. Because there is no corneal flap created during PRK, there is no risk of flap-related complications with the procedure.
Choosing the Procedure That’s Right for You
It’s impossible to determine whether LASIK or PRK is right for you without meeting with a board-certified eye surgeon. Dr. Ashraf has performed more than 40,000 successful laser vision correction procedures and can recommend the best course of treatment after evaluating your vision needs and goals in person.