Laser vision correction has already improved vision for millions of people over the past 30+ years. Procedures like LASIK and PRK can correct your vision, but what is the difference? While more people know about LASIK, both procedures work equally well and with a high degree of safety.
What are LASIK and PRK?
Both LASIK and photorefractive keratectomy (PRK) reshape the cornea to correct your vision. Most people will achieve at least 20/20 vision with both procedures. Both procedures use an Excimer laser to make changes to the cornea. This allows light entering the eye to focus correctly, so vision becomes clear.
What is the Difference Between LASIK and PRK?
LASIK and PRK have one significant difference: they use different methods of accessing the cornea for reshaping. LASIK uses a flap that remains attached to the cornea, while PRK removes the outer layers.
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To perform LASIK, your surgeon will create a thin flap in the outer layers of the cornea using the Visumax Femtosecond laser. The flap remains attached to the cornea. Using the Zeiss MEL90 Excimer laser, your surgeon will reshape the cornea in microscopic layers. This laser uses energy that vaporizes tissue with no heat and no damage to nearby tissues. The flap will adhere within a few minutes when put back in place.
PRK removes the outer layers of the cornea using the Zeiss MEL90 Excimer laser. This laser precisely reshapes the cornea by removing these microscopic layers, which will grow back over the next few weeks. For people with a thin cornea, PRK Xtra adds corneal cross-linking (CXL). This procedure strengthens the bonds between collagen fibers in the cornea to strengthen it. The same laser is used in both procedures, so they both provide the same amount of vision correction, but no flap is created with PRK.
Should I Have LASIK or PRK?
If LASIK and PRK provide the same vision improvement, why choose one or the other?
- Fast vision improvement
- Short recovery time
- Risk of dry eye
- Slight possibility of flap issues
- Safe for people with a thin cornea
- No risk of flap complications
- Longer recovery time
- Takes longer to see full improvement
What is Recovery Like from LASIK or PRK?
After LASIK, most people can drive and return to work within a day or two after the procedure. Eyes may itch or burn for a few days as the flap continues to heal. After PRK, vision recovers over the first several weeks and will continue to improve for up to three months. People undergoing PRK can usually return to work after one week.
Am I a Good Candidate for LASIK or PRK?
If you have mild to moderate nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism, you may be a good candidate for LASIK or PRK. If you have a thin cornea or pre-existing dry eyes, your surgeon may recommend PRK. LASIK offers a faster recovery time, but people with a thin cornea do not make good candidates for LASIK.
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To learn more about this treatment, please schedule your consultation by either filling out the form on this page or by calling (780) 452-4111. We look forward to helping you!