The most popular methods today for correcting nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism are LASIK and PRK laser eye surgery. How do you decide which procedure is right for you?
LASIK surgery is performed with a laser used to re-sculpt the cornea surface, the outermost layer of the eye. Treatment takes place beneath a thin flap in the cornea. PRK is an identical treatment performed directly on the surface of the cornea, as opposed to beneath the flap. Both surgery options offer freedom from eyeglasses and contact lenses and provide excellent vision correction for virtually all patients. The visual improvements following LASIK and PRK are the same, but some patients choose LASIK due to the faster healing time and others opt for PRK because it is safer.
Patients find LASIK more attractive, most often, because it tends to offer faster healing times. Rapid recovery occurs because only the outer edges of the corneal flap need to heal. Recovery typically takes only about 24 hours. Patients can read, drive and use a computer within one day.
Since a flap is created during the procedure, the cornea is weakened a bit more during LASIK than it is during PRK. Unless the patient has an abnormally thin or oddly shaped cornea this doesn’t usually pose any significant risk.
The only disadvantage of going with PRK is the longer healing time. This is something to consider when comparing the two vision correction procedures. After PRK surgery it may take three or four days for the surface of the eye to heal. Noticeably improved vision is seen immediately, but the best results require an additional one to two weeks of healing. Patients typically return to normal activities within five days.
Compared to LASIK, PRK is a relatively safer procedure. Although no surgery is without risks, LASIK is still considered extremely safe, PRK has fewer risks. Because there is no corneal flap involved, there is no risk of flap-related complications. More of the cornea stays intact and remains stronger and more stable following the procedure. In addition, there are fewer instances of post-operative dry eye symptoms after PRK as opposed to LASIK.