When pondering types of laser eye surgeries, LASIK is the first to come to mind for many people, however, Photorefractive Keratectomy (PRK) is another type of laser eye surgery that was created before LASIK.
Both LASIK and PRK are popular in part because they can help people who wear glasses or contact lenses cut back on their usage. These two procedures also can be used to treat the following vision problems:
- Myopia (nearsightedness).
- Hyperopia (farsightedness).
- Astigmatism (uneven lens or cornea, resulting in blurred vision).
Since safety is paramount, certain physical characteristics could make someone ineligible for LASIK surgery. If that is the case, your eye doctor and you might opt for PRK instead as an alternative to a surgical procedure.
LASIK and PRK are both procedures designed to reshape your cornea, which helps you to see. Your eye surgeon will review every test and measurement before setting a recommendation that they believe is safest for your eyes.
One should take into account the cost and benefits before opting between a LASIK procedure or PRK surgery; your eyes deserve the best care. It’s worth noting that although the techniques for performing LASIK and PRK vary, both are refractive eye surgeries.
This article will outline the differences between LASIK surgery vs PRK, as well as the benefits and drawbacks of each.
To differentiate between LASIK Surgery vs PRK, it’s useful to know that the primary distinction between them is the following:
- For LASIK, a thin flap must be made on the cornea in order to access the lower layers of tissue.
- With PRK corrective eye surgery, the top layers of the cornea need to be removed by the surgeon.
Who is a candidate for each eye surgery?
In order to be eligible for these operations, a candidate for eye surgery must meet the following requirements:
- You must be 18 or older
- Do not get the surgery if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
- When it’s dark, the average size of a pupil is around 6 millimeters (mm).
- Your vision hasn’t altered much in the past twelve months.
- It is possible to improve your eyesight to at least 20/40.
- Negative lens strength measurements between -1.00 and -12.00 diopters are prescribed for myopic individuals
Not everyone is eligible for both laser eye surgeries.
Here are some situations that may make you ineligible for one or the other:
- Allergies that persist over time can impede the healing of your eyelids and eyes.
- If you have a serious eye condition such as glaucoma or diabetes, you should be aware.
- If you have an autoimmune condition, such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus, that could impact your healing.
- If you have thin corneas that aren’t stable enough to endure either operation, LASIK is usually not an option for you.
- Your enlarged pupils raise your likelihood of visual disturbances and also make you ineligible for LASIK surgery.
- If you’ve already had one of these procedures (LASIK or PRK) before, another surgery may bring more risks.
What happens during PRK?
Numbing drops are administered to keep you from feeling any pain during surgery. You could also get medication that soothes you.
The epithelium, the outer layer of corneal tissue, is completely taken out – a process that takes about 30 seconds.
An immensely accurate surgical tool, the excimer laser, is employed to rectify any discrepancies in the lower corneal layers. This process lasts around 30-60 seconds.
A lens-like bandage is placed on top of the cornea to help the tissues below recover.
What happens during LASIK?
You’re given drops to numb your eye tissues.
To move the epithelium layer to the side for reshaping, a tool called a femtosecond laser is used to cut a tiny flap in it. This flap stays attached, so once the surgery is finished, it can be replaced instead of being taken away like in PRK.
An excimer laser can be used to alter the shape of corneal tissue and rectify any vision problems due to curvature.
Once the piece of epithelium is cut, it is repositioned over the other cornea tissue in order to let it heal alongside the other tissues.
Dr. Olkowski administers a special bandage contact lens, akin to a regular contact lens, directly after PRK has been carried out in order to facilitate the recovery of the top layer of the cornea. The lens is removed when the surface area has healed and you’ll have proper vision while it is being worn. Your surgeon will take away this protective covering once the eyes have mended.
You will likely experience a period of blurry vision, discomfort, and increased light sensitivity in the days following the treatment while your cornea slowly mends. The bandages will be taken off after a few days and you will be given medications for the occasional pain for one or two days post-procedure. Artificial tear drops should also be used to ensure proper healing.
In conclusion, eye surgery recovery takes a couple of days in the beginning. When the healing starts, sight won’t be totally clear yet but still sufficient for use. Generally, recuperation will take up to one month, however, many PRK surgery Hawaii patients can continue with their ordinary activities once the bandage lens is detached. As you heal, day-to-day vision should improve gradually.
Unlike PRK, with LASIK, the hinged flap is merely readjusted. Recovering from LASIK is a lot faster and many LASIK surgery Hawaii patients can return to their normal activities the day after; this operation can offer you more clarity and improved vision before you leave your appointment.
Days after surgery, you may feel some pain or a slight burning sensation that could last for several hours. Pain medication and eye drops will be given to aid your recovery.
PRK Pros & Cons
- The recovery period is longer, which may be disruptive.
- You cannot drive until your bandage contacts are removed.
- You may need to take time off work after PRK.
- After the eye procedure is completed, it’s possible that you may be temporarily more sensitive to bright light.
- There is no risk of complications with the corneal flap.
- There is less risk of negatively affecting corneal thickness.
- It can be a more uncomfortable recovery overall.
- During the initial period after this type of surgery, it is more likely to develop an eye infection.
LASIK Pros & Cons
- The eye healing time is very quick.
- It is usually not possible to drive right after LASIK surgery, but many patients can the following day.
- It may not be suitable for people with thin corneas.
- Complications are more likely to occur due to the presence of a corneal flap.
- There can be a greater risk of poor night vision.
- There can be an increased chance of having dry eyes.
- You are not likely to have to take off work after LASIK.
- Your vision is noticeably improved within a few hours.
- There is less risk of infection.
- Bandage contact lenses are not needed.
- Fewer follow-up appointments are typically needed.
LASIK surgery vs prk: Is one eye surgery more effective than the other?
Both refractive surgeries offer permanent vision correction and the primary distinction is the amount of recovery time.
With a proper, experienced eye surgeon, the end results of LASIK Surgery vs PRK will not be different. Though time-wise, one can see clearly in a few days with LASIK while the process may take up to a month with PRK.
PRK is a safer laser surgery technique and more effective compared to LASIK, as it does not result in a flap in the cornea. Additionally, any physical trauma to the eyes can put the LASIK flap at risk for damage or issues later on.
How do you know which eye surgery is the best for you?
To decide on a vision correction procedure, you need to meet with an eye specialist who specializes in the field. The ophthalmologist will take into account various factors including:
The properties of your corneas such as thickness, curvature, and any existing scars should also be considered.
Activity level may factor into which vision correction surgery is best for you; athletes may find PRK the better option since it doesn’t create a flap in your cornea like LASIK and other similar laser eye surgeries.
You can use health savings or flexible spending accounts to cover the cost of these corrective vision surgeries, too.
Ready for a consultation?
There’s definitely no “one-size-fits-all” vision correction surgery. To maximize your chances, visit a location that offers comprehensive care and multiple solutions. Schedule an initial consultation with our experienced surgeons at EyeSight Hawaii in Honolulu, HI, and Maui, HI. Make an appointment online or call our office to schedule a consultation today!