Is PRK a Good Alternative to LASIK?
If you are considering laser eye surgery, you have several effective options. While LASIK (Laser Assisted in situ Keratomileusis) is by far the most popular vision correction procedure, PRK (photorefractive keratectomy) is another trusted treatment. Although PRK and LASIK can correct similar vision problems, they are different procedures. PRK was actually the predecessor to LASIK, and while more patients choose the newer procedure, PRK is still a great option for those who may not qualify for LASIK.
Laser Eye Surgery Basics
PRK and traditional LASIK can correct nearsightedness, farsightedness, and mild to moderate astigmatism. These problems typically result because the eye is unable to properly refract light. The unfocused light hits the retina at the back of the eye, and the brain registers a blurred image. In both LASIK and PRK, the doctor uses an excimer laser to correct the shape of the cornea, enabling it to properly bend light.
LASIK vs. PRK Procedures
In the LASIK procedure, a surgeon will create a thin flap in the surface of your eye. Traditionally, doctors created this flap manually with a tiny surgical blade, but today more and more surgeons are using a laser to make the incision. The doctor will then carefully lift the flap and will reshape your cornea with an excimer laser. This computer-driven laser is carefully aligned to your eye so that it stays on track with your cornea, even if you shift your eye during surgery. When the surgeon is finished reshaping the cornea, the doctor will gently lay the flap back down on the eye, and it will heal naturally in about a month.
To perform a PRK procedure, the doctor will actually remove the corneal epithelium, the outermost layer of the cornea, using a buffing brush, alcohol solution, or surgical instrument. This layer is so thin that it will naturally begin to regrow after about five days. Using an excimer laser, the surgeon will then reshape your cornea, just as he or she would do in the LASIK procedure. When the surgery is complete, the doctor will provide you with a soft contact lens to protect the eye as it heals.
Which One Is Right for You?
Both LASIK and PRK have similar results and a nearly identical success rate. More patients choose LASIK because recovery is typically faster, and they are able to achieve their optimal vision more quickly. In addition, PRK patients may experience more discomfort in the first few days following surgery. However, PRK is still a highly effective and low-risk procedure, and it is often a great choice for those who do not qualify for LASIK surgery. PRK is particularly suitable for patients with thin corneas or those who have undergone LASIK surgery in the past. Some patients also prefer PRK because the procedure poses no risk of corneal flap complications. For example, patients who play high-impact sports or who work highly physical jobs may prefer PRK because there is no risk of the corneal flap shifting out of place during these activities.
Find Out More
Both LASIK and PRK are great options if you are looking to improve your vision and reduce your need for corrective lenses. Find a laser eye surgeon in your area to learn more about these procedures and to find out which one may be right for you.
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