For patients requiring eye surgery, laser techniques can provide unmatched precision. While one typically thinks of LASIK first, there is another type of laser procedure called PRK (photorefractive keratectomy) that can also be performed to improve vision. Below, we explore the differences between the two options and shed light on which may be the most ideal for your needs.
What is the difference between LASIK and PRK?
Before both procedures, the patient is made comfortable with oral sedatives and numbing eye drops. The main difference is in how the first part of the surgery is performed. During PRK, the doctor will gently remove the top corneal layer, allowing the laser to access the area for reshaping. The cornea will naturally regenerate the removed layer during recovery.
During LASIK surgery, the doctor will use a specialized blade to create a corneal flap. The flap is then elevated to let the doctor address the shape of the corneal dome. Afterward, the flap is readjusted, and the surgery is completed.
For both options, it takes around only one minute for the eye doctor to improve your vision. Both PRK and LASIK provide lasting results that enhance your overall well-being.
What does PRK recovery entail?
Immediately after your PRK procedure, a specially designed dressing is placed over the cornea to allow for rapid regeneration of the removed outer layer. Once the layer has healed, the bandage can then be removed. Because the dressing is formed like a contact lens, patients retain vision as their corneas are recuperating.
Side effects such as blurry vision, light sensitivity, and eye irritation are normal and may last a few days after surgery. You’ll receive pain medications from the doctor as well as hydrating eye drops.
After the bandage has been removed, your vision will stabilize and remain functional. While full recovery will take around 30 days, you’ll be able to return to work and other normal activities after your dressing is removed. Day by day, you will find yourself able to see better.
What can I expect from LASIK recovery?
LASIK recovery takes less time than is needed with PRK. Patients can typically return to their normal schedules by the next day. Before you leave the office, you’ll be seeing more clearly. Mild discomfort and a minor burning sensation may be experienced for several hours after your LASIK treatment.
The doctor will make sure you receive pain medications along with healing eye drops. You’ll be asked to avoid rubbing your eyes at all costs, as this can cause the corneal flap to migrate, compromising your result. You should also try to minimize eye strain during the first few weeks after surgery.
What are the pros and cons of PRK?
- Ideal for those with thinner corneas
- Reduced risk of complications when compared with creating a corneal flap
- Lowered risk of removing too much of the cornea
- Can be performed on those who have already undergone LASIK but need further changes
- Lengthy recovery time
- More discomfort when compared with LASIK recovery
- Patients cannot resume driving for at least 7 days after surgery
- Clients may need extended time off from work or school
- Patients must avoid sun exposure for 4-6 weeks
- Increased risk of infection immediately after surgery
What are the pros and cons of LASIK?
- Quick recovery
- Patients can drive 1-2 days after their procedure
- Clients can return to their normal work schedule quickly
- Vision improvement is noticeable immediately
- Lowered risk of infection
- No dressings or bandages required
- Fewer follow-up visits
- Less pain medication needed
- Not ideal for those with thinner corneas
- Increased risk of infection and complications
- Increased risk of losing night vision
- Increased risk of dry eyes
What is the takeaway?
The bottom line is that both PRK and LASIK are excellent choices when it comes to improving your vision with a high degree of accuracy. For patients who have already undergone LASIK, PRK can be a great option for a second surgery and can reduce certain complications and risks. If the patient has corneas on the thin side, PRK may be the right choice the first time around. Only a detailed consultation with your eye doctor can determine the best approach for your needs.
Contact us at New York Laser Vision today and find out more about how PRK and LASIK can help you regain your quality of life.