The Difference between PRK and LASIK
PRK and LASIK are both common refractive surgery techniques that utilize laser vision correction to help improve eyesight. PRK has been around longer, but both are widely used today.
The Procedure: PRK vs LASIK
PRK and LASIK are both used to modify the cornea in order to correct a patient’s vision but they use different methods to accomplish vision correction. In PRK, the surgeon will remove the top layer of the cornea, known as the epithelium. Lasers are then used to reshape the other layers of the cornea and correct any irregular curvature in the eye. In LASIK, the eye surgeon creates a small flap in the cornea with a laser instead of removing the epithelium. The flap is gently lifted, giving the surgeon access to the cornea for laser reshaping and then lowered after the procedure is complete. The flap will heal in a short period of time.
Recovery: PRK vs LASIK
Recovery from the removal of the epithelium during PRK will take longer than the recovery creating the flap in LASIK. Full recovery with PRK will usually take about a month or so. Recovery from LASIK is faster, and vision improvement is almost immediate. The full effect of the surgery should only take a few days. Complete healing takes several months.
Following PRK, the patient will be required to wear a small transparent contact lens bandage over the eye and may experience some light sensitivity or irritation for a few days as the epithelium heals. The bandage may be removed after about a week and during which time the patient may experience mildly blurry vision and slight discomfort.
The patient will see an immediate improvement in vision but the full effect will be felt when the eye fully heals. The patient will likely be advised not to drive until their vision has normalized. Post-operative checkups with the doctor will be regular until the eye is fully healed.
Following LASIK surgery, the patient will experience immediate vision improvements and close to perfect vision the day after surgery. Pain and discomfort will be minimal and may be limited to a burning sensation in the eyes for a few hours to a few days after the surgery.
Efficacy: PRK vs LASIK
Both PRK and LASIK are considered to be highly effective techniques in permanently correcting a patient’s vision and both attain identical visual improvement results following complete healing. The main difference is the recovery time.
The Risks: PRK vs LASIK:
Statistics associated with PRK and LASIK demonstrate that both procedures are considered extremely safe. The surgeons at SoCal Eye will recommend the best type of treatment for you based on your comprehensive refractive surgery consultation. This information provided below is not intended to replace a discussion with an eye doctor.
Dry Eye: LASIK surgery can cause Dry Eye. Often times the reduced tear production is a temporary phenomenon for about twelve months after surgery. This dryness can rarely be permanent.
Summary: PRK vs LASIK
The Bottom Line is LASIK and PRK are both great options for visual corrective surgery. Talk to your doctor or eye specialist about which option may be better for you based on the specifics of your eye health as well as your overall health.