Thinking about getting corrective laser eye surgery? Photo Refractive Keratectomy (PRK) and Laser-assisted-in-situ keratomileusis (LASIK) are two types of laser eye surgery that may be able to sharpen your vision. If you are nearsighted, farsighted or have an astigmatism, laser eye surgery can help change the shape of your cornea, resulting in better focus and stronger eye sight.
Which one is the right choice?
Let’s start with some similarities between the two. According to the FDA, both PRK and LASIK are considered safe with high success rates. Laser eye surgery is an outpatient procedure, and only takes 15 minutes per eye (don’t worry, the laser portion only takes about 60 seconds). Costs associated with each surgery are comparable, and with a Dental Select vision plan, you can be eligible for a 15% discount or 5% off promotional price when visiting a contracted provider. Of course as you are choosing between LASIK and PRK, it’s best to consult your eye care provider as they will help you make the best decision.
So what is the difference between LASIK and PRK?
Essentially, the variances occur within the procedure itself and the recovery time. With LASIK, an incision is made in the cornea to create a flap of tissue. The flap is lifted and the laser then reshapes the inner layers of the cornea. After repairing imperfections, the flap is put back into place and heals over the cornea. This can take a few days; however, LASIK recovery is much faster than PRK. Patients can expect mild discomfort following surgery. Some patients are able to start seeing within hours after surgery, and vision will continually improve for the next 6 months.
With PRK, no flap of tissue is created. Instead, the outer layer of the cornea is actually removed. When the area is exposed enough, the computerized laser can start reshaping. If you have thin corneas, you may be a better candidate for PRK. Also, because no flap is created, there is less risk of flap complications or removing too much of the cornea. PRK takes longer to heal than LASIK as the outer layer of the cornea needs time to regenerate cells. It may be a couple days or even weeks before eyesight improves. Most PRK patients start driving and stabilizing their vision within 1-3 weeks, but it can take up to 6 months until vision is closer to perfectly clear.