LASIK vs PRK: Which One is Right for You?

Are you considering laser vision correction surgery to improve your vision? If so, you may have heard of two popular procedures: LASIK and PRK. Although they both serve the same purpose, their procedures are slightly different. PRK is a procedure in which the surgeon removes the top layer of the cornea and then uses a laser to reshape it. On the other hand, during LASIK surgery, the doctor will cut a thin flap in the cornea, change its shape, and then bend the flap back into place.

LASIK stands for laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis. The first step in any laser vision correction is to access the cornea. With traditional LASIK, a thin flap is created with an instrument called a microkeratome, which is a blade that cuts through the cornea to create a thin flap. The surgeon lifts the flap, remodels the cornea to improve vision, and then replaces it.

The difference between the two procedures lies in how the laser vision correction surgeon accesses the cornea to remodel it with an excimer laser. The epithelial tissue (skin) that covers the cornea must be removed or temporarily removed before the excimer laser energy is applied to the cornea, so that the excimer laser sculpts the layer of the cornea that does not grow back. The method that removes this tissue from the skin in the first step is called PRK, and the method that temporarily removes it is called LASIK. Both LASIK and PRK use a laser to reshape the cornea, which is the transparent outer layer of the eye that focuses light so you can see clearly. During LASIK surgery, patients experience eye pressure (numbness with anesthetic eye drops) and dim or opaque vision for about 45 seconds.

During this procedure, a special laser is used to create a flap and then it is lifted and the cornea is remodeled with an Eximer laser. Most eye care professionals agree that both LASIK and PRK are safe and effective laser vision correction procedures as long as patients are good candidates for them. LASIK is by far the most popular and most commonly performed laser refractive surgery that aims to correct vision problems. After either LASIK or PRK surgery, patients use prescription antibiotics and anti-inflammatory eye drops for a few days. When deciding between LASIK and PRK, it's important to consider your individual needs and lifestyle. Your eye doctor can help you determine which procedure is best for you based on your specific condition and lifestyle.

Ultimately, both procedures can help improve your vision and provide you with clearer sight.

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