Comparing LASIK and PRK

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Posted on Thursday, May 13th, 2021 by Dr. Robert Mack
LASIK & PRK in Hoffman Estates, IL

Many patients who seek refractive surgery are unaware that the precursor to LASIK — PRK, or photorefractive keratectomy — even exists.

While LASIK and PRK differ somewhat in their approaches, both are famously successful at improving visual acuity. At Mack Eye Center, Dr. Robert J. Mack and his esteemed colleagues are skilled in both procedures.

How Each Procedure Works

With LASIK, the surgeon uses a laser or microkeratome (special scalpel) to cut a tiny flap of tissue on the surface of the cornea. That flap is pulled back to allow a second laser to reshape the underlying corneal tissue. The surgeon will then put the newly cut flap back into place, and with the curvature of the cornea now fixed, visual acuity is enhanced.

In the case of PRK, the surgeon uses a blade, brush, alcohol solution or laser to remove the thin outer layer of the cornea. With this layer (known as the epithelium) out of the way, a laser can alter the curvature of the cornea to improve quality of vision. After finishing with the laser, the surgeon provides the patient with protective contact lenses to shield the eyes while the layer grows back.

Pros and Cons

LASIK’s top benefit is accelerated recovery. Typically, LASIK patients can see clearly within a day or two, while PRK patients see gradual improvement over the course of a month. As expected, LASIK is a lot more popular with patients who can choose between either option because it gets them back to normal — in terms of vision and life — much sooner.

However, doctors do not consider everyone a good candidate for LASIK. A small but sizable portion of the population have either corneas that are too thin or pupils that are too big for the procedure to be a suitable fit.

Moreover, some people prefer PRK because the corneal flap left behind from LASIK is more likely to be subject to complications after a post-recovery accident. People who are more susceptible to traumatic eye injuries, such as athletes, may consider PRK for that reason. That said, it is important to note that long-term health risks from LASIK are minimal.

So Which to Choose?

The team at Mack Eye Center is happy to use its expertise to advise prospective patients on whether they are a good match for either type of refractive surgery. Whatever the best solution winds up being for your individual situation, Mack Eye Center is committed to helping you see better.

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