When LASIK Isn’t an Option, Should You Consider PRK?
- Posted on: Jan 30 2023
Have you been told you don’t qualify for LASIK? That doesn’t mean your only option for clear vision is wearing glasses or contacts.
As with any procedure, not everyone is a good candidate for LASIK. There are several factors that can affect your candidacy, from thin corneas to dry eyes.
Thankfully, while LASIK is a popular method of permanent vision correction, it is not the only one. Photorefractive keratectomy, or PRK, is another form of laser eye surgery offering permanent vision correction.
How Does PRK Differ From LASIK?
LASIK and PRK are forms of laser eye surgery that provide permanent vision correction. To achieve this, your eye surgeon will use a laser to reshape the cornea, the transparent part at the front of your eye, during an outpatient procedure.
Light enters your eye through your cornea. The cornea and lens bend that light, focusing it onto the retina at the back of the eye. This process is what creates clear images.
Blurry vision is caused by a refractive error. When you have a refractive error, whether nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism, the shape of your eye prevents it from bending light as it should.
Laser eye surgery corrects this by reshaping the cornea so it can refract light properly. The goal of both LASIK and PRK is visual freedom, so the patient no longer needs to rely on glasses or contacts in order to see clearly, or no longer needs them as often.
The critical distinction between PRK and LASIK is whether or not a flap is created on the cornea’s surface at the procedure’s start.
With LASIK, a small corneal flap is made. The flap is folded back, allowing the surgeon to reshape the tissue beneath.
It is then folded back into place and left to heal after the procedure. With PRK, no flap is needed. Instead, the top layer of the cornea, called the epithelium, is removed.
The cells that make up the epithelium regenerate within a few days. For this reason, PRK can involve a slightly longer recovery time. A contact lens bandage must be worn to protect the eye as it heals.
What Are the Advantages of PRK?
PRK provides permanent results that are almost identical to LASIK. Similar to LASIK, PRK has a very high success rate.
The majority of people who choose PRK will be able to significantly reduce their dependence on visual aids like glasses and contact lenses. When compared to LASIK, many of the advantages of PRK are related to the fact that no flap needs to be created in the cornea.
Do you have dry eye syndrome? If so, PRK may be a better fit for you than LASIK.
Studies have shown that PRK is less likely to trigger dry eye symptoms. This is because, since there is no flap created, there is less irritation to the cornea.
PRK is also ideal for those with very active lifestyles. Whether you participate in contact sports in your free time or must complete strenuous activities for work, there is a risk that the corneal flap can become dislodged after you get LASIK, potentially leading to an eye injury.
If you get PRK instead, this type of complication is not possible. This means you’ll be able to get back to the activities you love sooner.
In order to schedule the PRK procedure, you will first need to qualify as a candidate.
Who Is a Good Candidate for PRK?
PRK is an excellent option for those with a mild to moderate degree of nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism. You should be at least eighteen years old and have a stable prescription that has not changed for at least one year.
You should also have good overall eye health. If you have advanced glaucoma, an advanced cataract, a corneal disease, or certain other conditions, you may not qualify for PRK.
In addition, you should not be pregnant or nursing. If you are pregnant or nursing, it is best to wait until after you have completed breastfeeding to schedule any laser eye surgery.
Those with dry eye syndrome may be better candidates for PRK than LASIK. PRK is often recommended over LASIK for dry eye patients because it is less likely to aggravate existing dry eye.
If you have thinner-than-normal corneas, you may not be an ideal candidate for LASIK. This is because your corneas must be sufficiently thick in order to create a flap.
This is not an issue with PRK. The good news is, if you have thin corneas, you could still be a candidate for PRK.
To determine whether PRK is right for you, your doctor will thoroughly evaluate your eye health, measure your refractive error, take other measurements, and discuss your goals for the procedure.
Does PRK sound like it would be a good fit for you? Schedule a PRK consultation at Jacksonville Eye Center in Jacksonville, FL, today!
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