PRK or LASIK
Having photorefractive keratectomy (PRK) or LASIK can positively impact one’s vision so that an individual can rely less on glasses or contact lenses. But they do differ and one may be best suited for a patient rather than the other. This is usually dependent on the severity of vision correction needed and cornea shape. Your ophthalmologist should be able to determine whether PRK or LASIK is right for you.
How PRK Works
PRK surgery is sometimes preferred for patients who have steep corneas and could potentially experience ectasia, which can happen after having a LASIK procedure causing an increase in depth and thinning of the cornea. Other patients who can benefit from PRK are those who:
- Have naturally thin corneas
- Take part in heavy contact sports like boxing and football
- Suffer from severe dry eyes
The PRK procedure is most often used for patients who have irregularly shaped corneas, are farsighted or nearsighted, as well as those who have astigmatism. PRK differs from LASIK as it does not require the use of a flap to reach the cornea. Instead, following numbing drops, the outer portion of the eye (epithelium) is brushed away and followed up with an ultraviolet excimer laser to reshape the cornea. The patient is then provided with a bandage contact and urged to allow it to heal before their next visit.
Healing After PRK
Overall, the results of PRK are extremely similar to those of LASIK. The entire procedure takes only a few minutes per eye and requires some downtime to recover—typically a week. You may notice that your vision becomes blurry after a few days. No need to panic! This is completely normal and should become more clear as time goes on. The reason for blurred vision afterward is usually caused by the outer layer cells regenerating themselves. You may also experience some discomfort, stinging, and burning around the eye area as it heals.
Regarding pain relief, you can alleviate most pain with drops or basic medications such as Advil or Tylenol. However, it is important that you listen to your body and know when your pain becomes abnormally severe. In this rare case, you should visit your doctor immediately for treatment.
LASIK is the most common of the two vision corrective procedures performed. Much like PRK, LASIK can be used on those who suffer from nearsightedness, farsightedness, and for those who have astigmatism. Patients who can benefit from LASIK are those who:
- Do not suffer from any eye diseases
- Do not have diabetes
- Have corneas of regular thickness
At the start of the procedure, following numbing eye drops, a small flap is created on the outer portion of the eye. Small parts of the cornea’s interior are reshaped by an excimer laser to give a patient the most ideal shape. In just a few seconds per eye, the procedure is finished and the corneal flap is closed to prevent infection and speed up healing.
Recovery Time for LASIK
Following your LASIK procedure, you should be given some sort of protective covering while the eye heals. The first 24 hours are crucial that you don’t rub, tug, or touch your eyes so they may heal properly. Doing so can cause the corneal tissue to become damaged, allowing the opportunity for harmful bacteria and germs to set in. You might experience some discomfort, watery eyes, stinging, or burning afterward but this is completely normal. Rather than seeing with blurry vision after a PRK procedure, your vision might seem hazy or foggy with LASIK. Again, this is normal and should clear up after about a week.
It may take anywhere from three to six months for your eyes to fully heal. Some LASIK patients experience seeing “halos” or light flares while the eyes are healing. These symptoms should also diminish and get better within six months. Over the counter medications can be administered for pain after your LASIK procedure. If pain is too severe, please call your doctor as soon as possible.
PRK Pros and Cons VS LASIK Pros and Cons
PRK is the first generation of laser vision correction. Much like LASIK, the procedure can treat nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. The outside layer of your cornea, commonly referred to as the epithelium, is removed manually by the surgeon and an excimer laser is used to reshape the cornea. PRK is great for patients that have irregularly shaped or thin corneas. The procedure is also a good alternative for those who are predisposed to chronic dry eye.
The PRK procedure has quite a long visual recovery time. In fact, it takes about a week for cells to regenerate on the outer layer of the cornea. Eventually, after two to six weeks of recovery, the corneal surface will begin to smooth out which yields clearer vision. If both eyes are done at once, the patient will need to refrain from working or driving for a week. Compared to SMILE or LASIK, PRK has also been known to lead to a higher chance of discomfort after the surgery.
For many years, the LASIK procedure has been the most common way to correct your vision. It can successfully treat nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. During the procedure, a tiny flap of corneal tissue is created with a laser, allowing the same laser to reshape your cornea. Once the corneal flap is replaced, the patient can almost immediately begin to see clearer. Visual recovery time is quick, too. Most patients can drive and return to their jobs the very next day. It’s no wonder this has become the most practiced vision correction procedure.
For those with thin corneal thickness, LASIK is not a good option since the procedure requires a flap to be made from the tissue. In fact, a certain degree of thickness is needed for the surgery to happen. People with irregularly shaped cornea may also be referred to a different procedure like SMILE. In addition, those suffering from dry eye symptoms are at risk of experiencing chronic dry eye after the procedure.
Daily Activities Following Eye Surgery
After any kind of refractive surgery, you should be prepared to do a few things to protect them.
- Sun and light protection: Wear sunglasses as often as possible when outside to shield your eyes from harsh sunlight. If possible, dim artificial lights indoors.
- Refrain from driving: Do not drive if you cannot see clearly and if you cannot safely maneuver your way from one point to another. It is best to rely on a close family member or friend if you need to get somewhere, including follow-up exams.
- Avoid bodies of water: Water can contain potentially harmful organisms that may alter the healing process. Try to keep your eyes lubricated with drops, but keep them away from pools, springs, hot tubs, and other bodies of water.
- Avoid makeup: Keep the eyes clean of makeup for a few days to a week after any eye procedure. Makeup could house harmful bacteria and obstruct the healing process.
- Refrain from exercise: Avoid any extremely strenuous exercise or direct contact sports. You could damage your eyes and restrict the healing process.
Understanding Excimer Lasers
To understand a little bit more about excimer lasers and how they go about reshaping the cornea, this laser can be explained as a UV laser that utilizes high photon energy of ultraviolet light usually at less than 350 nm wavelengths. Active components of this laser include halogen gas, noble gas, and an intermediary gas. Hollow optical fibers coated with aluminum allow the transmission of UV light safely during medical procedures. Excimer lasers are of the most efficient lasers compared to other types like solid-state lasers.
Trust in a licensed ophthalmologist like Dr. Mattioli to help you answer the question, “Between PRK or LASIK, which is better for me?” It is important to seek out a professional to get their expert advice on which corrective eye procedure would work best for you. Continue to visit our blog for more information on corrective surgery, tips, and more.