PRK became FDA approved in 1995 and was 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. PRK is performed using the same excimer laser used when performing LASIK. PRK is able to correct nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism the same as LASIK.
What is the difference between LASIK and PRK?
The difference between the two is the flap. Unlike LASIK, PRK does not require our surgeons to create a flap on the corneal surface. In the LASIK procedure, a laser or an instrument called a microkeratome creates 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 Visx Star S4 - IR to apply your specific treatment plan to your cornea. Even though the laser and microkeratome are very precise instruments, some corneas are too thin to safely create an effective flap. In those cases, PRK may be a better option. Your doctor will review your specific case with you during your free evaluation.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 as mentioned previously. The surgeon then uses the Visx Star S4 - IR laser to apply your specific treatment to your cornea.
Are there differences in the recovery period between LASIK versus 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 as 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 about 80% of patients don’t experience discomfort after surgery, about 18% experience a scratchy feeling comparable to having an eyelash underneath a contact lens and about 2% experience discomfort that can be aided by the new medications mentioned above. 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. The good news is your visual outcome will be the same regardless of whether PRK or LASIK is performed.
If you would like additional information on laser vision correction or would like to schedule a free consultation with one of our doctors in Sacramento or Roseville, please contact our laser vision correction department at 916-485-2020.