Serving Patients in Colorado and Wyoming
What is PRK?
PRK is a form of refractive eye surgery.
Photorefractive keratectomy is laser eye surgery which corrects refractive errors like myopia, hyperopia, and astigmatism. In this laser procedure, the excimer laser is used to gently reshape your cornea to restore good focus to your eyes.
What is the difference between PRK vs LASIK?
Both PRK and LASIK use an excimer laser to reshape the cornea. We have two different excimer lasers, one we generally use for PRK and one for LASIK, though most eye laser centers have one laser they use for both.
In LASIK, a thin flap is created in your cornea, the flap is elevated, the excimer energy is applied in the middle layers of your cornea, and then the flap is repositioned. In PRK, no flap is created. The excimer energy is applied at the surface of your cornea to restore good vision to your eyes.
Advantages of PRK vs LASIK
PRK leaves your cornea stronger than LASIK. The treatment is at the surface of your cornea, so most of your eye is untouched. This leaves more room for touchup procedures, if needed, and allows the treatment of thicker glasses prescriptions. In addition, PRK has a lower chance of causing ectasia (progressive corneal weakening).
If you have PRK, you do not have to worry about flap complications like a flap too thick, too thin, or wrinkled. When a flap is created, the eye is pressurized for about 60 seconds. Some patients can feel this pressure sensation. Since no flap is needed, the PRK procedure if faster, easier, and more comfortable than the LASIK procedure.
Risks of PRK
The excimer laser used for photorefractive keratectomy is very accurate and the odds are overwhelming that you will achieve your visual goals. No surgery is perfect, and there is a chance for an over or under correction. If this target error affects your life, then usually you can have a small touchup to get closer to your goal.
If you over heal, you can end up with a small amount of haze on the cornea. This usually resolves on its own, but if not, then your surgeon will removed it, and you will need to use eye drops for a period of time to help it heal normally.
Infection and corneal irregularity are also potential side effects.
PRK Recovery Time
The vision in PRK recovery time is usually in the 20/40 to 20/60 range for the first four days, but can be blurrier. After that it tends to improve in clarity very quickly. Comfort drops and pills are made available to make sure the first few days of your PRK recovery time are pleasant. Some don’t need any of the medications while other need them to be comfortable. A contact lens is placed to act as clear “band aid.” With the contact lens in place, you blink on the contact rather than the area of your cornea healing beneath the contact. This makes patients much more comfortable. If the contact falls out prematurely, it is usually wise to see your doctor to have a new contact lens placed for the duration of your PRK recovery time.
PRK vs Phakic IOL: Which is Better?
PRK and phakic IOLs are often the procedures of choice for those with high amounts of nearsightedness. PRK often costs less than phakic IOLs while the phakic IOLs are largely reversible which is a nice feature. Most surgeons will not treat prescriptions about -10.00 with PRK. Phakic IOL placement is often the better procedure for these patients. Ideally, your surgeon would be familiar with both of these procedures so he/she will be able to make a recommendation on the best approach for your eyes.
LASIK vs. PRK: Which is Better?
LASIK vs. PRK: Which is better depends on the thickness of your cornea, the size of your prescription, and how you uses your eyes.
About a third of my eye laser surgery patients choose PRK. If you are involved in contact sports or a contact profession (fireman, policeman, etc.), then photorefractive keratectomy may be the right choice for you. In addition, if you have a thick glasses prescription or a thinner than normal cornea then PRK would likely be safer for you.
If your lifestyle makes it hard to accommodate the few extra days it would take to heal from PRK then patients choose LASIK.
Questions for your PRK surgeon:
- How many procedures have you done?
- What percentage of you eye laser patients choose PRK?
- Which excimer laser will you use and why?
- Will you use mitomycin c to prevent haze?
- What is you enhancement (touchup) rate ?
- Do you recommend PRK, Lasik, or a phakic IOL and why?