LASIK may be the most popular form of refractive surgery available today, but it was predated by PRK (photorefractive keratectomy). Much like LASIK, PRK has undergone many updates since it was first introduced and remains a strong option for patients who wish to limit their dependence on prescription eyewear. Below, ophthalmologist Brian Boxer Wachler, MD explains how PRK is different from LASIK and why it can be the better choice for some patients.
What Distinguishes PRK and LASIK
To begin, it is important to acknowledge that PRK and LASIK share more similarities than differences. Each surgery’s main objective is to reshape the curvature of the cornea to diminish refractive errors like nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism.
The most significant difference between the two procedures is the creation of a “flap.” With LASIK, Dr. Brian uses a laser to make a tiny flap on top of the cornea. He then pulls back the flap to access and reshape the cornea with a separate laser. With PRK, Dr. Brian does not create a flap at all, instead he polishes off the outermost layer of the cornea called the epithelium. In the following weeks, then applies the laser. The epithelium regenerates on its own, but this does prolong the recovery.
Why Some Patients Are Better Candidates for PRK
Although LASIK is a good solution for many patients with refractive errors, not everyone is deemed a good candidate for LASIK. After an evaluation, Dr. Brian may decide LASIK is not the right approach for patients with thinner than average corneas, dry eye, and irregular astigmatism.
The good news is that PRK can still help a lot of these patients to see without needing prescription lenses. PRK is just as safe and may even pose fewer risks due to the lack of a corneal flap. Many athletes, especially those involved in contact sports and MMA athletes, prefer PRK because flaps can pose a problem if the eye is injured later. Other patients choose PRK when they learn it is moderately less invasive than LASIK.
Learn More About PRK from an Expert
Dr. Brian has published many academic pieces on refractive surgery and participated in clinical trials for PRK as an FDA investigator. With advanced, precise laser technology, he can help you attain crisp, clear vision at multiple distances without the need to wear glasses or contact lenses. Do not trust just any doctor with something as delicate as your eyes: go directly to Dr. Brian, who is known as “the surgeon’s surgeon” by fellow ophthalmologists. Call 1-310-860-1900 for an appointment or directly schedule your free 15-minute Zoom Q&A session with staff here.