PRK: An Attractive Alternative to LASIK
If you want to reduce your need for corrective eyewear but have had LASIK in the past, or you have been told you are not a good candidate for the procedure, consider photorefractive keratectomy (PRK) surgery. Like LASIK, PRK corrects refractive errors such as myopia, hyperopia, and astigmatism. PRK is often recommended for patients with thin corneas and the procedure has unique advantages, including no risk of corneal flap complications. Dr. Walter Choate perform PRK surgery at their Goodlettsville, TN, practice and can determine whether it is right for you during a consultation.
What is PRK?
PRK was the first successful laser eye surgery available for vision correction. While LASIK is more popular now, PRK offers comparable results.
Like LASIK, PRK eliminates visual irregularities by reshaping the cornea. This clear tissue forms the outermost layer of the eye and helps to focus light before it enters the pupil. If the cornea is too steep or too flat, or contains other irregularities, it can distort light entering the eye and cause fuzzy vision.
How Does PRK Differ from LASIK?
The primary difference between PRK and LASIK lies in how the inner layers of the cornea are accessed. Rather than creating a flap in the outermost layer (as in LASIK), PRK involves the complete removal of this tissue. This technique lends PRK several advantages over LASIK.
Because PRK completely exposes the underlying tissue, treatment can performed at a lesser depth. Since PRK substantially reduces the risk of removing too much corneal tissue, it is particularly suited to patients with corneas made thin by previous surgeries. For this reason, it is also suitable for patients with naturally thin corneas.
Since PRK substantially reduces the risk of removing too much corneal tissue, it is particularly suited to patients with corneas made thin by previous surgeries.
It is important to understand that PRK does have a number of disadvantages. Because the eye must naturally regenerate corneal tissue, recovery takes much longer than LASIK and typically consists of several weeks rather than several days. Patients also report more discomfort during the early stages of recovery, and there is a greater risk of post-surgical inflammation. Dr. Choate can determine which corrective surgery is best suited to your needs during your initial consultation. You can also discuss PRK cost and other important information during this visit.
The PRK Procedure
PRK is a simple, outpatient procedure. The surgery itself typically lasts only 15 minutes and is considered relatively painless. Patients only require numbing eye drops, but may be provided with a mild sedative to ensure their relaxation. Depending on your treatment goals, your doctor can either operate on both eyes at the same appointment, or treat each eye during separate visits performed one or two weeks apart.
Once your eye has been prepped, the doctor will use a speculum and suction ring to keep your lid open and your eye still during the procedure. After the outermost layer of the cornea is removed with a buffing device or surgical instrument, you will be positioned underneath the PRK device. You will then be directed to focus on a target light while the laser delivers pulses of ultraviolet light to precisely remove portions of the exposed tissue. After the cornea has been sufficiently reshaped, a soft contact lens is placed over the eye to facilitate healing.
After Your Visit
Because your vision will be blurry immediately after surgery, you will need a friend or family member to drive you home. In order to minimize the risk of infection and inflammation, your doctor will prescribe both topical antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medications.
In the days and weeks after the procedure, you will have several follow-up appointments with your doctor. The corneal tissue usually grows back within five days, at which time Dr. Choate can remove the bandage lens.
Final results take considerably longer to develop than with LASIK. It will generally be about one to three weeks before you can drive on your own and three to six months before your vision will stabilize completely.
Contact Us Today
The team at Choate Eye Associates is dedicated to clarifying your vision with quality technology and personalized service. Reach out today to set up an appointment and discuss your options for refractive eye surgery.