If you vision is affected by myopic, hyperopic, or astigmatic errors, you are probably interested in learning how your vision can be permanently corrected. Laser vision correction procedures such as PRK and LASIK have been performed on millions of patients in the United States, and are considered safe and effective by the FDA. However, not all patients are suitable candidates for refractive surgery.
PRK surgery is a type of laser eye surgery that allows surgeons to reshape the cornea and permanently correct nearsighted, farsighted, and astigmatic vision. The benefits of the PRK laser vision correction procedure include:
- PRK offers patients excellent results and PRK has a high documented success rate. Some of the many benefits of PRK include:
- PRK can be performed on an outpatient basis and requires very little recovery time. In fact, many
- PRK patients are able to return to work the next day after their procedure.
- With PRK, it takes only about one minute to correct a patient's vision for a lifetime.
- Because PRK does not involve the creation of a corneal flap, this procedure is better for patients with already thin or damaged corneas. With PRK, there are no risks of flap complications or flap infection as seen with LASIK.
- PRK offers patients clear natural vision, so they no longer have to deal with the hassle of glasses or contact lenses. This also means that with PRK, side effects of contact lens use such as warpage, infection, and inflammation of the eyes are eliminated.
- With nearly perfect natural vision, patients see increased self-confidence and expanded recreational and employment opportunities. For example, patients with favorable PRK results are able to pursue careers in law enforcement, aviation, and the military that are unavailable to people who need corrective lenses.
- PRK is easier than LASIK to perform because it does not involve the creation of a corneal flap. This is preferable for young patients or other patients who may have trouble remaining still for the duration of the procedure.
The only way to be sure that you qualify for PRK eye surgery is to visit a local ophthalmologist and have an eye exam. Patients who are not good candidates for LASIK are often good candidates for PRK surgery. However, there are a few general requirements:
- Candidates should be at least 18 years old - this ensures that the eye has matured and developed properly.
- Your vision must be stable for at least one year prior to surgery.
- You must have no abnormalities of the cornea or external eye.
- You must understand the risks involved with PRK surgery and have realistic expectations regarding the outcome.
- Candidates should not be pregnant or nursing at the time of surgery, as hormones cause tissue fluctuations within the eye, changing the refractive error.
PRK Candidacy Exam
In order to determine if you are a good candidate for PRK vision correction surgery, your surgeon will perform various eye exams to test your corneal thickness, measure your refractive errors, and check for other vision problems that could prevent you from being a suitable candidate for treatment.
Patients that have thin corneas or other corneal problems generally cannot undergo LASIK surgery due to the higher risk of the patient developing flap complications. However, patients that are not good candidates for LASIK may be appropriate candidates for PRK laser eye surgery.
When patients undergo any type of refractive procedure, including PRK and LASIK, they should be aware that the cornea is made even thinner during surgery. Experts believe that the ideal cornea is no thinner than 250 microns thick and thicker corneas are better than thin corneas, since the function of the cornea is to protect the eye.
During LASIK, the flap created on the cornea can be as thick as 160 microns. For patients with already thin corneas, this can greatly jeopardize corneal integrity. PRK is a great alternative laser vision correction treatment for patients with thin corneas; during the procedure the laser ablation only affects the very surface of the cornea. During PRK, the cornea's structure is less altered than with LASIK surgery; this is especially important for patients with a thin cornea because the procedure allows the doctor to leave enough cornea intact to protect against future eye trauma.
If you have a thin cornea and you decide to undergo a laser eye surgery procedure such as PRK, your cornea will be thoroughly examined pre- procedure by your doctor to determine if your thin cornea is the result of a disease or a natural occurrence. If the eye is diseased, scarred, or warped, PRK or any other refractive procedure is not advisable.
High Risk Patients
Since only the surface of the cornea is affected during PRK, for patients with a thin cornea, this is the preferred procedure. PRK is also preferable for patients with certain corneal dystrophies or scars, or a condition called "recurrent corneal erosion."
PRK Cost and Financing
The cost of PRK surgery is affordable for many patients, and laser vision correction financing plans are available to break up the total PRK price into smaller monthly installments.
The PRK Procedure
If you decide to undergo PRK surgery, it is important that you follow your surgeon's pre- and post-operative instructions and know what to expect during the procedure.
PRK Recovery and Side Effects
As with any surgery, there are potential risks and side effects that can occur after patients undergo PRK surgery, including the possibility of having your vision under- or over-corrected.
Contact a Surgeon
Contact a PRK surgeon to find out if you are a good candidate for laser vision correction surgery.