How Is PRK Different from LASIK?

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Posted on Sunday, February 5th, 2017 by Dr. Robert Mack

Advances in ophthalmology have paved the way for the development of various refractive surgeries. Both LASIK and photorefractive keratectomy (PRK) are effective solutions for correcting blurry vision caused by nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism. But how are they different? And which one is right for you? In this blog post, the trusted Illinois ophthalmologists at Mack Eye Center discuss the differences between the procedures.

About the Procedures

Both PRK and LASIK involve using an excimer laser to reshape the cornea (the transparent part of the front of the eye) so it can better focus light onto the retina and thus improve vision. During LASIK, a flap is made on the cornea in order to access the treated area. In PRK, no corneal flap is necessary. Instead, the surface cells of the cornea are removed and the laser is applied directly to the corneal surface.

Candidacy Requirements

Most LASIK patients are also suitable for PRK but some PRK patients are not eligible for LASIK. Ideal LASIK and PRK candidates are those who have blurry vision as a result of a refractive error, have overall good eye health and have had a stable vision prescription for at least a year. LASIK patients should also have corneas that are thick enough to sustain the creation of a flap. Patients with very thin corneas may only be eligible for PRK.

The Recovery

One advantage LASIK has over PRK is that the recovery is shorter. In LASIK, only the edges of the corneal flap need to heal. Most patients recover within 24 hours and are able to resume their normal activities (including driving) the day after LASIK. PRK requires a slightly longer recovery time. It can take three to four days for the surface of the eye to heal. During this time, a bandage contact lens is worn to protect the corneal surface. Complications and risks are low with both LASIK and PRK. However, an advantage of PRK is the fact that there is no risk of complications associated with the corneal flap made during LASIK.

The Results

Despite their differences, both PRK and LASIK achieve great results. Most people achieve 20/20 vision after both procedures. However, some patients may still need to wear eyeglasses or contact lenses (with a lower prescription than before) after their surgery.

The ophthalmologists at the Mack Eye Center are trained and skilled in performing both LASIK and PRK. To find out which procedure is best for you, please schedule an appointment with us by calling (847) 755-9393 348-8067 today.