Photorefractive Keratectomy (PRK) is another choice for patients considering laser vision correction (LVC) surgery. This type of surgery was the first LVC introduced in the United States when it was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 1995. Today, it is still a very successful surgery that allows some patients who are not candidates for LASIK the opportunity to get rid of their eyeglasses.
Both LASIK and PRK use the excimer laser to reshape the cornea, eliminating the patient’s prescription. The main difference between LASIK and PRK is the part of the cornea treated by the excimer laser. LASIK is done in the central cornea after making a superficial flap, while PRK is performed on the surface of the cornea.
Both surgeries have the same spectacular long-term success. The majority of patients choose LASIK because it has a quicker recovery. However, PRK allows patients to overcome certain barriers that prevent some from having LASIK:
- Thin Corneas -- because PRK is done on the surface of the eye, patients with corneas that are too thin to make a LASIK flap safely as well as patients with very large prescriptions have this option.
- Dry Eyes – LASIK can cause dry eye syndrome to worsen because certain corneal nerves that are important for tear production are cut while making the LASIK flap. PRK avoids damaging these nerves.
- Abnormal Corneas – there are certain corneal conditions (keratoconus, map-dot-fingerprint dystrophy) that prevent patients from undergoing LASIK. In milder cases of these diseases, PRK can safely and effectively treat a patient’s prescription.
Patients that have PRK will experience slower recovery of vision and more discomfort after the procedure than those choosing LASIK.