Photorefractive keratectomy, commonly referred to as PRK, was available before LASIK was approved in 1998. In a lot of ways, LASIK is an improvement on PRK, although there are some differences between the two that still make PRK an option for some patients.
While the results of the two surgeries are nearly identical, the difference comes down to how the two surgeries are performed.
Let’s take a closer look.
Procedural Differences Between LASIK and PRK
With LASIK, a thin flap is created on the outer layer of the cornea, exposing the corneal tissue beneath. This tissue is then treated with an excimer laser, reshaping the cornea to correct the refractive error. It’s an incredibly common and safe procedure that has been performed on tens of millions of people worldwide.
While PRK is also common and safe, it’s a bit different. With PRK, the procedure is the same as LASIK except for the first part. Instead of creating a flap in the cornea, the surgeon actually removes some of this outer layer of the cornea, known as the epithelial layer. The rest of the procedure is then performed the same as LASIK surgery.
What Does This Mean for the Patient?
As mentioned, the results are the same for these two types of eye surgery. However, one significant difference is recovery time.
With LASIK, the corneal flap is simply placed back over the cornea, and it will repair itself within a couple of days.
On the other hand, because some of the epithelial layer of the cornea is actually removed during PRK, more recovery time is generally needed. The surgeon will actually use a type of soft contact lens that functions as a band-aid for your eye. Because of these factors, you may experience more post-surgery discomfort with PRK than LASIK.
Which Is Right for You?
Generally, LASIK is the number one option for refractive eye surgery. It’s the quickest, easiest, and safest option there is.
However, there are some cases where PRK is recommended for certain patients, particularly those with thin corneas. If your cornea is too thin, it’s not possible to create a flap in the epithelial layer. This is more common with those who have had LASIK surgery done in the past.
Get Advice from Qualified LASIK Professionals
Making the decision to have vision correction surgery is a big one, and it shouldn’t be done without the advice and input of a qualified LASIK surgeon.
The same is true of which type of surgery would be best for you. While we’ve given you a general outline of the differences between LASIK and PRK, there are other factors to consider, along with other types of surgeries that are available and may be necessary.
The best way to make this decision is to schedule an appointment with Northern Vision Eye Care so we can explain your options and answer any questions you may have.
If you’re ready, get in touch with us today!