If you suffer from vision impairment, you may have begun to consider treatment options. LASIK and photorefractive keratectomy, or PRK, are two of the most common and effective interventions, and both have high success rates. A choice between them should be made based on the specific characteristics of a patient’s eyes and their personal preferences.
UF Health ophthalmologist Dr. Allan Steigleman offers clarification about LASIK and PRK, and provides insight into some of the most common questions about the treatments:
What is the difference between LASIK and PRK?
LASIK and PRK use the same laser and have the same end results. The only difference is the approach and recovery. LASIK creates a flap with the top layer of your cornea, which is lifted during treatment. Once the procedure is complete, the flap is laid back down.
PRK uses a brush to remove the top layer of your cornea. Once the cornea is treated, a bandage contact lens is placed on your cornea while it heals.
What are the benefits of LASIK and PRK surgery?
LASIK and PRK are both popular types of laser eye surgery used to correct vision problems such as nearsightedness (myopia), farsightedness (hyperopia) and astigmatism. Some of the main advantages of LASIK and PRK are the relatively quick recovery times and minimal discomfort for the patient. Many patients experience improved vision immediately or within a day after the surgery and report minimal discomfort during and after the procedure. Vision correction achieved through these procedures is generally stable and long-lasting, decreasing the patient’s dependence on glasses and contact lenses.
Who is the best candidate for these types of procedures?
The best candidates for LASIK and PRK procedures are people who have had a stable vision prescription for at least one year and have overall healthy eyes. While there isn’t a specific age limit, vision tends to stabilize in early to mid-adulthood, making it an appropriate time for the procedure.
If you are interested in having refractive surgery, a specialist will review your eye anatomy, corneal thickness, glasses prescription and other factors during a consultation to determine suitability and which options are best for you. Both LASIK and PRK have high success rates and the choice between them should hinge on the specific attributes of the patient’s eyes and what they prefer.
What is the recovery time and process for LASIK?
LASIK has a very fast visual recovery and most patients can return to work the very next day. You will need to sleep with goggles and use eyedrops for at least a week. It is important to stay out of dirty or dusty environments and avoid swimming or playing contact sports for about a month after surgery.
What is the recovery time and process for PRK?
After PRK, most patients return to work within five to seven days. Your vision will improve right away, but it will take longer to get the full visual benefits. You will need to use eyedrops for a month, and just like with LASIK, it is important to stay out of dirty or dusty environments and avoid swimming or playing contact sports for roughly a month.
What are common side effects of LASIK and PRK?
Like any surgery, LASIK and PRK have risks and possible side effects. Dry eyes or increased dryness is the most common. While dry eyes can be a challenge, they are usually treated successfully with artificial tears. Halos around lights or glare have also been reported after surgery but typically improve within the first few months.
Both of these procedures provide relief and improve vision for many patients. Now that you have a better understanding of LASIK and PRK, if you would like to know more, please contact UF Health Ophthalmology or call (352) 265-2020 to schedule a consultation.