Should You Have PRK or LASIK Surgery?

Should You Have PRK or LASIK Surgery?


If you’re thinking of having laser vision correction, you might be familiar with the terms PRK and LASIK, the two most common types of eye surgery available today. But the main question remains: PRK vs. LASIK – which is better and which, if either, should you have?

The purpose of this page is to compare LASIK and PRK, and provide patients with a clear understanding of both methods. Dr. Helm will ultimately advise you whether you are more suitable for LASIK or PRK, and you will then make a decision together on whether to proceed.

LASIK:
The most popular type of laser eye surgery is LASIK, an acronym for laser in-situ keratomileusis.
LASIK surgery involves the raising of a thin flap of corneal tissue of the eye. In LASIK, the laser treatment is applied to the tissue beneath the flap, whereas in PRK the laser is applied directly onto the corneal surface. The main advantage of LASIK is that the surface of the cornea is not treated, but simply folded back, minimizing post-treatment pain and speeding recovery of vision.

As most LASIK patients experience less post-treatment discomfort, usually they do not even need to take any pain medicine after the laser eye surgery procedure has taken place.

When given the choice, most patients prefer LASIK over PRK. LASIK allows a more rapid vision recovery than PRK and also involves less post-treatment pain, making it the best choice for those seeking safe and effective eye surgery.

However, LASIK requires one surgical step more than PRK: the making of the flap. To create the flap, the doctor cuts the thin layer at the front of the cornea with an instrument called a microkeratome.

The creation of the flap during LASIK takes less than thirty seconds, during which most patients feel pressure on the eye that is undergoing surgery.

The flap created with the microkeratome is then pushed back into place. The use of stitches is unnecessary, as the flap itself is held in place by natural corneal suction.

Some patients are most worried about the making of the flap than about any other aspect of the surgery. Although complications with the creation of the flap occur less of 1% of the time, some people might prefer PRK over LASIK only because they are worried about the flap.

Most of the difficulties potentially arising during the creation of the flap can be treated easily. A complication might arise for instance when the flap created in the corneal tissue slides a little and causes wrinkles. This particular complication occurs generally during the first day after the LASIK procedure and can easily be corrected by lifting and repositioning the flap. This particular complication can only occur during LASIK and does not concern PRK treatments.

Another possible complication of LASIK is that could never arise in PRK is the inappropriate creation of the flap, which can result in an irregular flap leading to a need for further surgery.

PRK:
PRK, also known as “photorefractive keratectomy”, is the original form of laser eye surgery. As opposed to LASIK, in PRK the doctor applies the energy of the laser directly to the surface of the cornea. Therefore PRK does not require any cutting of the corneal tissue to make a flap.

Patients might decide to avoid PRK because it has requires a longer period of time to obtain one’s best vision. This is due to the fact that in PRK the laser eye treatment is applied to the surface of the eye instead of deep within the cornea, as in LASIK.

While patients that have undergone LASIK can normally see quite well the day after the treatment, PRK patients are usually in the range of 20/40 and are able to drive within 5 days after surgery. The vision then gradually improves over a period of a few months. With near-sighted treatments, the ultimate results of LASIK and PRK are the same.

PRK patients are normally prescribed pain medicine for a couple of days after surgery. In PRK patients the pain is due to the fact that the surface layer of cells is removed prior to the laser treatment, and these cells have to then grow back.

Some patients cannot freely decide if they want to LASIK or PRK done. People with very thin cornea or with pre-existing conditions are more suitable for PRK, for example. Always make your decision in conjunction with your doctor.