LASIK and PRK are two of the most common laser vision correction procedures. Many patients ask about the difference, especially when they first see the less commonly known PRK surgery.
Our eye surgeons have extensive experience performing laser vision correction for patients throughout the Chicago area. Call Kirk Eye Center at 708-771-3334 today for an evaluation and discussion of your individual goals, or keep reading for general information about LASIK and its alternatives.
What Is PRK Surgery?
Photorefractive keratectomy, or PRK surgery, is a laser eye procedure that improves vision. During surgery, the outermost layer of the cornea (epithelium) is removed and our surgeons use an excimer laser to reshape the deeper corneal tissue. The result is vision unimpaired by issues like astigmatism, nearsightedness, or farsightedness.
LASIK, or laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis, is capable of correcting these same errors. The difference is, during LASIK surgery, our surgeons create a flap in the upper surface of the cornea, rather than removing the epithelium entirely like with PRK. For most patients, this results in a reduced recovery time. However, LASIK is not for everybody.
When Is PRK Right for Me?
LASIK is a highly customizable procedure, and most patients are suitable for this laser eye surgery. However, you might not be a good candidate if you have thin corneas. Your corneal tissue must be thick enough to form a flap in order to undergo LASIK, so insufficient cornea tissue limits your candidacy. Our ophthalmologists will also evaluate you for dry eye to ensure that you aren’t at a higher risk for post-surgical complications.
PRK is often a viable alternative for patients who have thin corneas, chronic dry eye, or both. In addition, for patients seeking revision or “touch-up” LASIK, PRK can be a useful alternative if the cornea has been left thinner by the previous procedure.
Recovery Times for PRK and LASIK
PRK laser eye surgery recovery time is longer than the recovery period for LASIK. The outer layer of the cornea is removed entirely, and it will take several days for these cells to regenerate. Vision takes longer to stabilize and reach maximum correction after PRK as well; patients may not experience full correction for several weeks to a month.
The recovery from LASIK is much faster than PRK – one of the main benefits of the procedure. Most LASIK patients start experiencing same-day vision improvements, and side effects like eye irritation typically subside within a week.
One Eye at a Time or Both?
Because of the longer recovery time, our eye surgeons generally perform PRK one eye at a time. Recovery from the procedure usually takes several weeks, and many patients find both the time commitment and post-operative instructions to be too disruptive to their schedules to undergo PRK on both eyes simultaneously.
LASIK, meanwhile, is generally performed on both eyes simultaneously. The shorter recovery time means that discomfort and inconvenience are minimal, in spite of the procedure being performed on both eyes at the same time.
Contact Kirk Eye Center to Find Your Best Laser Eye Treatment
Our team of doctors includes board-certified ophthalmologists and experienced eye surgeons who are committed to helping you achieve ideal vision correction. For some patients, this means LASIK. For others, PRK is the superior option.
The best way to find the right vision procedure for your needs is to schedule a consultation at Kirk Eye Center by calling 708-771-3334. We have offices in Gurnee and River Forest, and we serve patients throughout the Chicago area and other communities in Illinois.