When comparing the pros and cons of LASIK (laser assisted in-situ keratomileusis) vs. PRK (photorefractive keratectomy) surgeries, it is important to consider details such as recovery times, the thickness of your cornea, and other factors. Dr. Thomas Byrd performs both procedures with very similar results. The primary difference is that PRK is usually better suited to those with thin corneas. When the time comes for you to consider LASIK vs. PRK, come to our Detroit, MI, office and let Dr. Byrd help you determine which surgery will best address your eyesight needs.
Both LASIK and PRK are types of refractive surgeries that treat myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness) and astigmatism. The main difference between LASIK and PRK surgery is how Dr. Byrd accesses the stroma, or center layer of the cornea. In a LASIK surgery, the doctor uses a laser or a blade to make an incision in the cornea, creating a flap that allows him to access the stromal layer. He then uses the excimer laser to sculpt the stromal layer and correct the error in the patient’s vision.
Both LASIK and PRK surgery works by reshaping the cornea using an excimer laser. The results are comparable, but PRK recovery is slower as it takes more time for new epithelial cells to regenerate and cover the corneal surface.
During a PRK surgery, instead of creating a flap on the surface layer of the cornea, the doctor completely removes the outer, or epithelial layer of the cornea, allowing him access to the entire stromal layer. When the doctor finishes reshaping the stromal layer of the cornea, he places a bandage contact lens over the site, to encourage the growth of new epithelial cells.
Another big difference between PRK and LASIK is the recovery time after surgery. Patients who undergo PRK surgery experience results similar to those of LASIK patients, but after a longer recovery. Because the epithelial layer needs to grow back over the cornea, the healing process can take longer with PRK surgery. PRK patients may have a slightly higher risk of developing an infection or experiencing minor discomfort immediately after the surgery, but they do not need to worry about corneal flap complications that can develop after LASIK surgery. Most patients will experience at least 20/40 vision within a week or two of the LASIK or PRK surgery.
Most generally healthy patients can qualify for LASIK surgery as long as they demonstrate a stability in their vision prescription, are not pregnant or breastfeeding, and either do not have glaucoma or have well controlled glaucoma. However, conditions exist that can make PRK surgery a more appropriate option for some. Patients with thin corneas may not have enough tissue available to facilitate a corneal flap, and may not qualify for LASIK. These patients can often have PRK surgery performed and achieve the same results. LASIK surgery may not be suitable for patients with large pupils and those who have chronic dry eye problems. These patients can find the vision correction they seek through PRK.
Athletic patients and those with physically demanding occupations that place them at risk of eye injuries often choose PRK surgery over LASIK to avoid corneal flap complications.
To learn more about the differences between LASIK and PRK, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Byrd, contact our office today. During an in-depth review, he can determine which procedure is best for your needs.