Most people have heard of the LASIK eye procedure, a surgery that is currently performed hundreds of thousands of times each year. Because LASIK is so familiar by name, many people who are considering laser vision correction to help them reduce their need for eyeglasses don’t even realize they may have another option. Here, we describe the details of LASIK and PRK refractive surgery, as well as a few questions you may ask yourself as you explore your treatment options.
LASIK eye surgery improves vision by reshaping the corneal tissue beneath the ocular surface. To achieve this, a small flap is made. This flap quickly re-attaches to the eye and is not visible nor noticeable in your vision.
The PRK procedure, or photorefractive keratectomy, is also performed to reshape the cornea so light can have a more direct path to the back of the eye. This procedure reaches the corneal tissue by removing the uppermost layer of the cornea. No flap. The tissue that is removed regenerates over time.
Deciding between LASIK and PRK may be challenging for some people, though most of our patients are most interested in being able to see their computer screen or street signs without their glasses or contact lenses. So how do you choose? You ask questions.
- What is your vision like? The higher your corrective prescription, the better suited you may be to the PRK procedure. When we say “higher prescription,” we are describing a substantial deficit like -8.00. This is because some studies have suggested that individuals with a more significant deficiency in vision may also have thinner corneal tissue that may not be as supportive of the flap made during LASIK.
- What is your timeline for recovery? One of the benefits of LASIK is that you can get back to normal activities quickly. Vision is clear within a few hours after this laser procedure. PRK heals more slowly because the corneal tissue has been removed. Approximately 70% improvement is gained within a week. After one month, the eyes are about 90% healed. PRK patients cannot drive for at least one week following surgery.
- How active do you want to be? Most people who undergo laser vision correction have very little to worry about in terms of eye injury. Individuals who play competitive sports may want to consider their injury risks when choosing their procedure. PRK may take longer to heal fully, but the eyes return to a natural anatomical state after this procedure. With LASIK, the flap that is made re-attaches but is always there and may be more prone to damage.
Discover more about the vision correcting treatments available in our Mililani office. Call 808-625-5577.