One of the most common questions we receive is what the difference is between PRK and LASIK. This is a valid question because they are similar, but very different in a few ways. Understanding the differences between the two will help you decide which one is best for you.
PRK, also known as photorefractive keratectomy, is a refractive surgery that corrects three eyesight issues:
PRK was the first surgery developed for vision correction and LASIK is the one that followed it.
While many people believe LASIK is the advanced version of PRK, it’s not exactly a replacement. There are benefits to PRK over LASIK that make it better suited for some people.
An eye surgeon will reshape the cornea with an excimer laser. This allows light to enter the eye allowing it to correctly focus on the retina. This is what produces clear vision.
It’s the first step of the procedure that makes PRK different from LASIK.
With LASIK, the surgeon creates a thin flap on the cornea. A microkeratome or femtosecond laser is used to make this possible. The flap is lifted and the corneal tissue is exposed. This tissue is replaced after the excimer laser reshapes the cornea.
With PRK, the outer layer of the cornea is completely removed. This is before the underlying corneal tissue is reshaped with the excimer laser. The cornea will reshape itself within a few days after the surgery has been performed.
While both procedures involve reshaping the cornea, the biggest difference is that LASIK involved the laser reshaping it while PRK leaves the reshaping up to the body’s healing process.
Since the body must rebuild the cornea with a PRK procedure, recovery time is longer. It takes just a few days for the cells to regenerate and cover the surface of the eye. Other side effects of PRK is that people often have blurry vision for a few days as the cornea rebuilds and there is a higher risk of eye infection compared to LASIK.
PRK may come along with a longer recovery time and an increased risk of infection, but there’s a benefit that outweighs those. PRK is great for people who have a thin cornea. Those with a thin cornea are not candidates for LASIK. If it wasn’t for PRK, they would not be able to take advantage of vision correction. PRK also has the upper hand in the risk of flap complications. With LASIK, too much of the cornea may be removed with the excimer laser.
The best way to see how different PRK and LASIK are is to put them side by side.
|Surface laser treatment||Deep laser treatment|
|A good option for people with a thin cornea||Vision improved shortly after surgery|
|Recovery takes longer||Risk of corneal flap complications|
|Allows body to reshape cornea||Less discomfort during recovery|
The best way to know if you should have PRK versus LASIK is to ask an experienced eye doctor. The optometrist will perform a thorough examination to identify the thickness of your cornea and then identify which procedure would be most beneficial for you.
During the consultation with the optometrist, be sure to ask as many questions as you can because it’s important to feel comfortable with the entire procedure. This way you will feel much better about the process and be more satisfied with the results.
If you’re interested in PRK or LASIK surgery, contact us. We would be happy to meet with you to go over the pros and cons of each one for you as an individual. Since every patient has different eyes, it’s important to discuss what would work best for your eyes and eyesight. Call us now at 877-718-7818 for an appointment.