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Comparing LASIK and PRK

Written by Shannon Wong on June 23, 2020

SMILE vs. LASIK in Austin, TXChanges in the shape of the cornea are what cause farsightedness, nearsightedness and astigmatism. By reshaping the cornea with a cool-to-the-touch surgical laser, ophthalmologists can ensure that images received by the eye are focused on the retina with maximum clarity.

Two of the ways to do this are LASIK and PRK. Below, the experienced vision care professionals of Austin Eye outline the differences between the two procedures.

Reaching the Cornea

During both LASIK and PRK, a laser surgical instrument reshapes the middle layer of the cornea. With LASIK, your Austin Eye ophthalmologist accesses this delicate area by making a microscopic incision in the cornea to create a flap, which is moved aside. After the reshaping of the cornea, the flap is moved back into position, allowing for efficient healing. This is an outpatient procedure that takes less than a half hour and uses local anesthetic, although additional sedation may be provided on request.

With PRK, no flap is created; rather, access to the cornea is achieved by removing the outer corneal surface by application of an alcohol-based solution followed by use of the surgical laser. The surface corneal cells grow back within days, but for this reason recovery periods are longer for PRK than for LASIK.

In general, LASIK involves less discomfort and your final, improved vision comes into focus more quickly. With PRK, improvement in vision happens slowly over a period of weeks. PRK patients may also experience temporary haziness of vision, glare or sensitivity to light.

Benefits for Targeted Groups

PRK was the very first refractive surgery that used a laser to reshape corneas and correct vision, and was once the most common vision correction procedure. Today, it is often recommended for patients in very specific groups.

The fact that no flap is created with PRK eliminates the chance of post-operative complications involving a flap incision. For this reason, patients who play contact sports or routinely engage in other vigorous physical activities may choose PRK to avoid the risk of flap dislocation. PRK is also the preferred choice for patients who were born with thin corneas or who have had cataract removal or other previous eye surgeries, including radial keratotomy, refractive lens exchange or phakic IOL implantation.

If you would like to learn more about LASIK or PRK, we invite you to schedule a personal consultation with one of the board-certified ophthalmologists at Austin Eye. Contact us by calling us at (512) 250-2020.