PRK (photorefractive keratectomy) was the first laser vision correction used to eliminate glasses and contact lenses. The first PRK was done in North America in the 1980’s and PRK has remained an excellent way to eliminate nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism.
PRK involves removing just the surface layer of cells on the surface of the cornea (the clear winshield-like structure on the front of the eye) and then reshaping the surface using the excimer laser. A contact lens is placed on the surface for three to five days as the surface cells grow back to cover the cornea. Most people are back to usual activities in 7 to 10 days.
LASIK (laser in situ keratomileusis) was developed in the 1990’s as a way to speed up the recovery from laser vision correction. Also called “Flap & Zap”, LASIK involves cutting a flap from the cornea, folding it back out of the way to reshape the surface underneath with the excimer laser, and then replacing the flap to it’s original position. This allows people to be back to usual activities within a day or two but does carry higher risks; the LASIK flap is more complicated to create, the flap can be shifted even months or weeks later, and the cornea is weakened more from the LASIK flap.
For over twenty-five years surgeons have preferred to use PRK for people with thin corneas or other factors that may make LASIK too risky. With the newer excimer lasers a customized wavefront laser pattern can be used. This custom wavefront treatment uses a map of the patients vision system to create an individualized laser treatment pattern – much like a fingerprint that is customized to each individual eye. Some surgeons believe that a customized treatment is more effective with PRK because the LASIK flap will cover up the finely customized wavefront treatment.
Many surgeons around the world are choosing PRK as their preferred way to do laser vision correction due to the excellent results and safety. Although the risks are low with LASIK, they are lower with PRK and most complications of PRK are easier to treat than a complicated LASIK flap.
For people who are looking for safe and effective laser vision correction the combination of PRK/Advanced Surface Ablation with customized wavefront laser treatment is an excellent choice.
If you have questions about laser vision correction or wish to book a complimentary evaluation with Dr. Anderson Penno, contact Western Laser Eye Associates.