Is LASIK or PRK a Better Choice?

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Is LASIK or PRK a Better Choice?

LASIK and PRK are two types of Laser Eye Surgery for vision correction of nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism that have advantages and disadvantages. Both allow us to provide excellent results when we carefully select patients and explore the risks and benefits with them as well as help them to set realistic expectations and personal goals”, said Maine Corneal Specialist and LASIK surgeon Ravi Shah, M.D. of Eyecare Medical Group in Portland. “While the long term visual results of PRK and LASIK are identical there are some differences that we like our patients to be aware of.”

Patients who have LASIK may have very slightly reduced contrast sensitivity in dim illumination. If one uses extremely sensitive clinical measuring methods they can sometimes find a slight reduction in “low contrast” vision. Often it is so slight that the patient does not notice it except in the testing conditions or in very extreme instances of reduced contrast situations such as driving at dusk in the rain. Thus it is a limited problem for most patients.

The real differences between PRK and LASIK are based on the fact that PRK is a “surface treatment” and LASIK is a “lamellar treatment” which means that PRK is performed on the surface of the cornea whereas LASIK is performed between the layers of the cornea. “When I perform All Laser Bladeless LASIK it is really a 3-step procedure. First I create the “layer” or “flap” using a femtosecond laser-without the use of a blade or any cutting. Second, I apply the excimer laser to reshape the cornea to the correct prescription for your clear vision. Third, I replace the “flap” in its original position where it positions and adheres without the need for sutures”, said Dr. Shah. PRK is really a single step procedure where the excimer laser is simply applied to the surface of the cornea to reshape it into the proper prescription. Whenever you have a multi step eye surgery procedure there is always a greater chance of risks, side effects and complication. Fortunately the risks, side effects and complications of LASIK are relatively few and minor if you are indeed a good candidate and under the care of a top laser surgeon. So, PRK does offer a safer risk profile because it is a single step procedure.

However one of the not so subtle differences is that because it is a lamellar procedure, LASIK does not disturb the surface of the cornea during treatment. This provides patients with a much faster visual recovery and significantly less discomfort than PRK. This is why from the patient perspective most patients want LASIK eye surgery more than PRK. LASIK patients can get back to pretty much normal activities within a couple of days without any real pain-just some mild discomfort-and with good vision. Most LASIK patients are able to pass a drivers test with 24-48 hours of their laser treatment. PRK patients often experience moderate discomfort that can last a few days and depending on the degree of their prescription can take a week or so to achieve good functional comfortable vision.

The best way for you or someone you know to find out if they are a good candidate for All Laser Bladeless LASIK or PRK is to have an evaluation, examination and consultation at Eyecare Medical Group. Please feel free to schedule an appointment by calling us Toll Free at 888-374-2020.