PRK vs. LASIK: Everything You Need to Know

lasik vs. prk

In the world of laser vision correction, there is perhaps no better known procedure than LASIK. LASIK surgery is the most popular form of permanent vision correction out there. With millions of people undergoing the procedure a year, it may come as a surprise that LASIK is not for everybody. That’s right, even the most popular of procedures is not going to be the best fit for every patient.

Luckily, you have options. There are plenty of procedures that offer results similar to LASIK, but have less of a spotlight. One of these procedures is actually the predecessor to LASIK surgery – PRK.

Making the decision to get laser vision correction is a big one. That’s why we want to make sure you are informed every step of the way. So, why would one choose LASIK over PRK and vice versa? Which procedure would be best for you? Let’s take a moment to hash out everything you need to know before making this life-changing decision.

What is PRK?

PRK (photorefractive keratectomy) is often thought of as the original LASIK. The procedures are very similar, yet have a few key differences. During PRK, the thin first layer of the corne is removed completely. Your doctor will then go in an reshape the eye to allow for clear vision.

PRK typically comes with a longer recovery time, but has a few benefits over LASIK. One benefit is that PRK does not require the same corneal flap created during LASIK. This eliminates the chances of corneal flap complications. If you are a person who is at higher risk of corneal flap complications, you are probably better off getting PRK.

What is LASIK?

LASIK surgery is an extremely well-known and popular form of vision correction. During LASIK surgery, your surgeon will create what is called a “corneal flap” on the surface of the eye. This flap is then pulled back to allow for treatment, then replaced when the surgery is over.

The Procedures: LASIK vs. PRK

As mentioned above, the procedures are very similar. The only difference between PRK and LASIK surgery is the treatment of the first layer of the cornea.

During PRK, your surgeon will remove the first layer of the cornea completely. Your surgeon will then make the proper adjustments to your cornea using an excimer laser. Once finished, your doctor will place a contact lens “bandage” over the eye for protection during the healing process.

During LASIK, your surgeon will use either a blade or a laser to create a circular flap on the surface of the cornea. Once the flap is created, it will be pulled back out of the way. This exposes the inner layers of the cornea for reshaping using an excimer laser.

The Recovery: LASIK vs. PRK

The recovery process for both PRK and LASIK are very different.

Since the corneal flap created during LASIK surgery is repositioned after treatment, there is no need for bandages or stitches. The cornea is self-healing. You will attend a series of follow-up appointments to ensure everything is healing correctly. You will need to use antibiotic eye drops to avoid infection and promote full healing.

After PRK, the first layer of the cornea will need around a week to grow back. During this time, you will wear a contact lens “bandage” over the surface of the eye. This bandage keeps debris out of your eye, as well as promotes healing.

Which one is right for you?

Which procedure is best for you generally depends on your health and lifestyle. To qualify for either PRK or LASIK surgery, you must:

  • Be over the age of 18
  • Not be pregnant or nursing
  • Be of good overall health

PRK may be better for people with more active lifestyles. This is because there is no chance of corneal flap complications after PRK. Corneal flap injury can happen during activities such as contact sports or other strenuous activity. PRK may also be better for people who have thin corneas, as LASIK tends to make the cornea even thinner.

LASIK surgery is not for everyone, but doctors typically recommend it over PRK when available. This is mostly because of the quick procedure and recovery time.

Still wondering which procedure is right for you? Contact Eye Care Specialists in Scranton or Wilkes-Barre today to schedule your LASIK/PRK consultation! Our experts are happy to go over your options and steer you in the right direction.