By now, you’ve heard of LASIK surgery, which uses a laser to permanently correct your vision. However, you may not have heard of PRK. PRK was the first kind of laser corrective surgery that was invented, and it is still used today. You may be wondering what is PRK and why is it different from LASIK. To answer this question, it’s important that you understand how PRK is performed.
PRK stands for photorefractive keratectomy. PRK is a surgery that uses a laser to reshape your cornea in order to correct how your eye refracts light, which corrects your vision. The surgery is performed by first removing the epithelium, which is the outer layer of the cornea. Once the epithelium is removed, your surgeon at New England Eye Center will shape your cornea to your precise prescription with a laser. After the surgery you will be left without an epithelium, but it will eventually regenerate and heal on its own.
What Makes PRK Different From LASIK?
The biggest difference between PRK and LASIK is that PRK is performed directly on the cornea after the removal of the epithelium. During LASIK, a flap is made on the cornea. Once this flap is created, the laser reshapes your eye. The flap is then replaced, and left to heal. The benefits of using a flap means a faster recovery. Compared to PRK, the flap used in LASIK heals faster and reattaches itself to your cornea over the course of a few months. During PRK, the full epithelium of the eye has to completely regenerate itself. To mitigate infections and other risks, a bandage contact lens is used to promote healing while the epithelium reforms. Another significant difference between PRK and LASIK is the recovery period for PRK is longer and more uncomfortable. For most patients, medication and eye drops will be required for up to six months after the surgery. Even though the recovery process is longer with PRK, the final results are usually comparable to LASIK for vision correction.
Which Should I Get?
Most doctors will recommend LASIK surgery because patients recover faster. However, some people may not qualify for LASIK if their corneas are not thick enough. When getting LASIK, you must have corneas that are thick enough to reshape your eye and create a flap. If your doctor determines that your corneas aren’t thick enough for LASIK, they may recommend PRK. When PRK is performed, the epithelium and the thin outer layer of the cornea is removed, rather than a significant amount of corneal tissue like in LASIK. This means if your corneas are considered too thin to qualify for LASIK, you may still be a good candidate for PRK.
Your doctor at New England Eye Center will likely tell you if you are not qualified for LASIK, and will suggest alternatives for vision correction, like PRK. For those that are looking for permanent vision correction and aren’t good candidates for LASIK, PRK is an effective procedure to consider!
Want to learn more about PRK and other LASIK alternatives? Contact New England Eye Center today to schedule an appointment at one of our locations in Boston or Wellesley!