PRK vs. LASIK: Which Procedure Should You Choose?
The doctors at Broberg Eye Care can help you decide which laser vision correction procedure can best help you achieve clear vision by comparing the benefits and disadvantages of PRK vs. LASIK. We offer both surgeries at our convenient Austin, TX practice so you can pick the one that best suits your needs, wishes, and budget. Both of these procedures correct myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), and astigmatism (irregular eye shape), but use slightly different surgical techniques. Dr. Peter Broberg, Dr. Halsey Settle, Dr. William McGlathery, and Dr. Ximena de Sabra can determine if PRK or LASIK is right for you. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.
What Is PRK?
PRK, which stands for “photorefractive keratectomy,” was the predecessor to LASIK surgery. During this procedure, which typically takes less than 15 minutes per eye, your ocular surgeon will anesthetize your eye and remove the top layer of corneal tissue with a laser to directly access the underlying stroma. He will then reshape this tissue with powerful, precise laser pulses. Once he finishes modifying your cornea, your ophthalmologist will place special contact lenses to protect your eyes as your epithelium (the top layer of tissue) regenerates, which usually takes about one week. Most patients return to work within five days and their vision typically stabilizes within six months.
What Is LASIK?
LASIK is a modified form of PRK. Rather than entirely removing the top layer of corneal tissue, your ocular surgeon will use a femtosecond laser to create an epithelial flap, which is lifted up so the surgeon can reshape the stromal tissue. Then, your surgeon will place the flap back over your cornea, where it will heal back into place. As with PRK, the LASIK process takes approximately 15 minutes or less per eye. Since the epithelium does not have to completely regenerate, most LASIK patients can return to work within just a day or two. Many patients notice an immediate improvement in their eyesight and their vision stabilizes within a few months.
Which Is Right for You?
Since they use similar surgical techniques, LASIK and PRK offer comparable results, allowing patients to experience clearer vision. LASIK is a more popular procedure than PRK surgery because of its shorter healing time, which allows patients to get back to their lives more quickly. LASIK patients’ vision also typically stabilizes more quickly than PRK patients’. LASIK has a slightly lower risk of side effects like infection or blurriness, and patients typically experience less post-operative discomfort since their corneas remain largely intact. However, some patients are ineligible for LASIK because their corneas are too thin for flap creation. In addition, creating a corneal flap can sometimes cause complications, such as infection, that patients may wish to avoid. PRK also provides more direct access to the stromal tissue, making the reshaping process simpler.
Each surgery has distinct pros and cons. If you have sufficient corneal tissue and want a shorter healing time, you will likely opt for LASIK. If you have a thin epithelium and are concerned about flap complications, PRK may be better for you. Our ophthalmologists can discuss your options and help you decide which surgery may be right for you at your initial consultation.