While LASIK is the more recognizable name when it comes to laser vision correction, PRK surgery has actually been around for longer. In fact, PRK was the first surgery used to correct vision in 1987. And it’s still around today!
But what exactly is PRK and how is it different from LASIK? Here we answer these questions and more to help inform your decision to receive PRK in Chicago.
What is PRK?
PRK stands for photorefractive keratectomy. A “keratectomy” refers to the removal of sections of the cornea — the front part of the eye that refracts light. “Photorefractive” refers to how light refracts through the eye.
Like LASIK, PRK involves the removal of corneal tissue in a way that corrects refractive errors like nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism.
How is PRK Different From LASIK?
While PRK is very similar to LASIK, there is one key difference. During LASIK, a flap is made on the surface of the cornea, and an excimer laser is used to reshape the underlying corneal tissue, which corrects the refractive error. But PRK does not require a corneal flap — instead, the thin outer layer of the eye, called the epithelium, is removed. The cornea is then shaped with an excimer laser. After surgery, the epithelium eventually grows back.
How Does PRK Surgery Work?
PRK isn’t any more complicated than LASIK.
The procedure is done in three steps:
- After numbing the eye completely, the surgeon uses a special solution to remove the epithelium. This can also be done with a specialized surgical instrument.
- The surgeon uses an excimer laser to reshape the cornea to match your prescription.
- A soft contact is applied to act as a bandage while the epithelium regrows. This contact can be removed after a few days once the initial epithelial cells begin to regrow.
Is PRK Better or Worse than LASIK?
PRK isn’t necessarily a better or worse procedure than LASIK. Some people who don’t qualify for LASIK may be better suited for PRK and vice versa. However, there are a few downsides to PRK — mainly, the recovery time. It takes longer for the epithelium to fully regrow after PRK than it takes for a corneal flap to heal after LASIK. The recovery also can be a little more uncomfortable as the eye is left exposed without its protective outer layer.
On the other hand, there’s no risk of flap complications that sometimes occur with LASIK. PRK also removes less tissue than LASIK, which lowers the risk of complications associated with reduced corneal thickness.
Who Should Get PRK?
Like LASIK surgery, PRK candidates need to meet a few requirements before surgery.
- Be in good health
- Have a stable prescription for at least a year
- Not have any abnormalities on the surface of the cornea aside from standard refractive errors
Have a prescription within the following limits:
- -14.00 diopters of nearsightedness
- +6.00 diopters of farsightedness
- 6.00 diopters of astigmatism
You may notice these requirements are slightly different than those for LASIK. This is why PRK may be a better option for certain people. If your cornea is too thin or your prescription is too high for LASIK, PRK may be right for you. The best way to know if you’re a candidate for PRK is to schedule a free consultation. One of our eye care specialists will be happy to discuss your candidacy for PRK in Chicago.
How Long Does Recovery Take for PRK?
The primary concern of many patients who undergo PRK surgery is the recovery. PRK recovery does take longer than LASIK and can be a bit more uncomfortable. There is also a slightly higher chance of infection when it comes to PRK. However, the end results of PRK and LASIK are comparable, even though the recovery periods are different.
For PRK, you may not see improvement until days or even weeks after surgery. The initial discomfort can also last a couple of days, although it can be mitigated with mild over-the-counter painkillers. Full recovery can take anywhere from 3-6 months.
Keep in mind that recovery after any surgery relies heavily on how well you adhere to your post-surgical care. You are far less likely to develop an infection if you use your prescribed eye drops as instructed after surgery. As long as you take care of your eyes and make sure they are well protected, your recovery should be as quick and painless as possible.
PRK Surgery, Chicago
Curious to know if PRK is right for you? Call us at (312) 955-0025 or schedule an appointment to discuss your options for PRK surgery in Chicago!