Is PRK the Right Laser Eye Surgery for You?

September 15, 2015 — by Dr. Gregory Stainer
Tags: Prk Eye Care

Doctor evaluating a patientYou are tired of wearing glasses or contacts, and you are considering your surgical options. Though LASIK is your top choice, you have also heard about PRK and wonder if it may be right for you. PRK, or photorefractive keratectomy, is the precursor to LASIK. Both types of laser eye surgery can achieve similar outstanding results. They can reduce your need for glasses, and in many cases, you could even enjoy 20/20 vision after your surgery. However, PRK does not involve the creation of a corneal flap. Therefore, it may be a good option if you are not a candidate for LASIK. Dr. Stainer will evaluate your overall health, lifestyle, and the shape of your eyes to determine whether PRK is suitable for you. To find out if you are a good PRK candidate, contact our Bakersfield practice today.

PRK: A Basic Overview

Both PRK and LASIK will address refractive errors, such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. These vision problems occur when light does not pass correctly through your eye. Normally, it should bend and land in the center of your retina. If you have a refractive error, light will focus in front of, behind, or in several spots on your retina. During PRK and LASIK, Dr. Stainer will use an excimer laser to reshape the deeper layers of your cornea. This process will correct refraction so that light lands in the middle of your retina where it normally should.

The difference between PRK and LASIK is in the first step. In LASIK, Dr. Stainer will create a flap in the front of your cornea, giving him access to the tissues below. During PRK, he will completely remove this top layer. Following treatment, he will provide a special lens, much like a contact, which will protect your eye while it heals. Though it will take slightly longer to recover from PRK, the procedure is still safe and highly effective.

Health Considerations for PRK

There are certain overall health considerations that apply to both PRK and LASIK candidates. To be considered for either of these procedures, you should:

  • Struggle with nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism, or another refractive error
  • Be at least 18 years old (so that your eyes have stopped growing)
  • Have had a stable glasses prescription for at least a year
  • Have overall good health with no history of autoimmune disorders, diabetes, or collagen vascular disorders
  • Have good ocular health with no history of keratoconus or glaucoma

PRK vs. LASIK: Which Is More Appropriate for Your Eyes

You may still qualify for PRK, even if you cannot undergo LASIK. Thin corneas are one of the most common reasons to consider PRK. You may have been born with thin corneas, or a past laser procedure may have changed their natural size. In either case, this problem can increase your risk for flap complications following LASIK. Because PRK does not require a flap, you can typically undergo this procedure with a very low chance of complications.

Lifestyle and career are two other common reasons that you may choose PRK. Flap complications are rare and treatable. However, if you work as a pilot or if you are in the military, even a temporary problem can have serious or life-threatening consequences. Following PRK recovery, you should enjoy permanently improved vision with no flap-associated problems. Additionally, if you play high-contact sports, such as boxing, repetitive blows can dislodge the flap. In these situations, PRK may be more appropriate.

Contact Us for an Evaluation

Contact our office to learn more about the different forms of laser eye surgery. After a careful evaluation, we will determine which procedure is right for you.

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