What PRK and LASIK means

Welcome to Insight Eyecare with Dr. Kyle Tate your Sapulpa eye doctor. Today we’re going to talk about PRK and LASIK. What are these funny names that you just read? PRK stands for Photorefractive Keratectomy. LASIK stands for Laser-Assisted In Situ Keratomileusis. Commonly we know these as laser eye surgeries. Being a Sapulpa eye doctor, we offer both of these procedures through our clinic. In this article we are going to talk about some of the major differences between these procedures. In the following article, your Sapulpa eye doctor will explain to you why we would choose one procedure over the other.

PRK has been around since the 1990s. It is the procedure of choice for many reasons medically, however, it has a little bit longer healing time than LASIK. My opinion as your Sapulpa eye doctor is that due to our current societal need of instant gratification, PRK has become a less discussed option. It is true that LASIK has faster healing than PRK, however, there are more complications with LASIK that we will discuss in our next article. In short, PRK is usually the procedure of choice when one is worried about complications from surgery.

During PRK, the front layer of the eye is removed and is replaced within a week as the body grows it back. In LASIK, a different type of laser is used to cut a flap. This flap is very thin and located on the surface the eye. Historically, this step was done with a bladed mechanism which was prone to error. Current technology is much safer but can still have problems. PRK generally has less glare, dry eyes, and risk of complications after the procedure. However, the risk of infection increases with PRK. Medically when you compare the two procedures, PRK seems to be a safer long-term procedure. It keeps the eye healthier and has less risk for long-term problems. Laser eye surgery is a very exciting topic that we love to discuss with our patients as their Sapulpa eye doctor.

LASIK was performed in the mid-90s. Tulsa was actually one of the first places in the United States to perform LASIK. LASIK will give you better vision faster than PRK. This is why many people choose LASIK over PRK. However, my opinion as your Sapulpa eye doctor is that many people are recommended LASIK due to the fact that vision improves almost immediately. With LASIK you have good vision immediately which turns into great vision within the first few days. With PRK you have poor vision for the first few days. This becomes good vision after the first week and great vision after a month.

Besides infection risk, PRK is a much safer option long-term. You need a complete dilated eye exam before your Sapulpa eye doctor can recommend a surgery for you. One of the biggest factors we look at as your eye doctor is the thickness of the cornea. This is the front layer of the eye where these procedures are performed. Most treatments remove tissue from the cornea to change the prescription of the eye. That’s how the laser works in both LASIK and PRK. Doctors have guidelines to follow that are based on a variety of studies. These look at the minimum amount of tissue left after the laser eye surgery is performed.

One of the things we consider, as your Sapulpa eye doctor, is the stability of the eyes. We do not want your vision to be changing significantly within the last few years. This means, if each year your vision is changing more than a -0.25 in either eye then it is probably not a safe time for laser eye surgery. It is important to understand that laser eye surgery, such as LASIK or PRK, does not prevent the eyes vision from changing in the future. Basically, these procedures are removing tissue to reshape the eye. The patient’s expectations for surgery are also important.

Ideally, we want patients who rely on glasses or contacts at any time to be able to wake up and see. Laser surgery, such as LASIK or PRK, is not recommended for patients who have small prescriptions and only need glasses part of the time such as for driving, working on the computer, or reading. If you wonder if laser eye surgery is a good idea for you, reach out to us as your Sapulpa eye doctor so we can meet your eyecare needs.

So, let’s summarize what we have learned today. Both LASIK and PRK are great procedures that have actually developed over the last 25 years starting around 1990. Both procedures remove tissue off the front surface the eye called the cornea. This changes the prescription of the eye. Both procedures are permanent and never wear off. Both procedures have risk of infection which is a little larger in PRK. However, the complications that can happen from the flap created when performing LASIK has an overall higher risk than PRK. Flap complications can lead to permanently blurry vision, dry eyes, delayed healing, the need for additional procedures, and vision loss.

PRK has delayed healing time and it can take up to a month to have great vision. Both procedures require eyedrops such as antibiotics, steroids, and NSAIDs to provide a good healing process. Ideal patients are between or greater than 21 years of age and cataract age. However, as your Sapulpa eye doctor we have actually performed PRK on patients over 70 years old who have already had cataract surgery. To be a good candidate for PRK or LASIK you need to have a stable prescription over the last two years or more.

If you’re interested in laser vision correction such as PRK or LASIK, please reach out to us your Sapulpa eye doctor here at Insight Eyecare. Remember, we have a state-of-the-art facility that has over 1000 frames available with a wonderful staff to serve you. Our mission at Insight Eyecare is to improve every life at every encounter. If you feel like you want freedom from glasses and contacts through laser vision correction, please reach out to us so that we may improve your life. God bless you guys and have a great day!