The Food and Drug Administration approved PRK in 1995. It is the first FDA approved laser vision correction procedure using the excimer laser. PRK is an alternative way of performing laser vision correction, and a good choice for many people who have been told they may not be an ideal candidate for LASIK. The PRK procedure uses the same type of excimer laser as LASIK. And, just like LASIK, PRK is able to correct nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism.
The Difference between PRK and LASIK
Unlike LASIK, PRK does not require our surgeons to create a flap on the corneal surface. In the LASIK procedure, we utilize a femtosecond laser (Ziemer Z4) to create a surface flap on the cornea, which is gently lifted back by the surgeon to give access to the next layer of the cornea, the stroma.
The stroma must be accessed for the treatment since the stromal portion of the cornea does not regenerate, thus making your treatment permanent. Our surgeons then use the Alcon WaveLight® EX500 laser to apply your specific treatment plan to your cornea. Even though our femtosecond laser is a very precise instrument, some corneas are too thin to safely create an effective flap. In those cases, PRK may be a better option.
Since no flap is created in the PRK procedure, the surgeon uses a special instrument to remove the surface cells of the cornea to access the stromal layer where the treatment must be performed. The surgeon then uses the Alcon WaveLighjt® EX500 laser to apply your specific treatment to your cornea.
There are differences in the recovery period between LASIK and PRK. LASIK recovery is typically quite rapid and most patients return to work the following day. PRK requires more time to heal due to a much larger area of the front (epithelial layer) of the cornea that must replace itself compared to the small rim that must heal around the flap made during LASIK.
The discomfort associated with PRK recovery has been over-exaggerated. New post-operative medications and special bandage contact lenses are quite effective in treating the potential discomfort experienced by some PRK patients. We have found that nearly 80% of patients dont experience discomfort after surgery, while about 18% experience a scratchy feeling comparable to having an eyelash underneath a contact lens. A further 2% of PRK patients experience discomfort that can be aided by new medications.
With PRK your eyes may be a bit watery or light sensitive for a few weeks following surgery. The greatest visual fluctuations occur during the first week while the surface cells are regrowing on the cornea. Your visual outcome will be the same regardless of whether PRK or LASIK is performed.
If you are in Sacramento or Roseville, California area and are interested in what PRK can do for you, call Griffin & Reed Eye Care at (916) 485-2020 for more details or fill out our online form.