Patients often wonder if LASIK or PRK is more expensive. Our most affordable vision correction option is PRK (Photorefractive Keratectomy or Flapless Vision Correction). Over the past 20 years, PRK has been one of the most performed and most successful procedures throughout the world. Patients who have an active lifestyle, who are military personnel, and patients who have certain eye conditions such as thin corneas choose this procedure. Most patients who have a record of healthy eyes will qualify for this procedure. This makes it a good choice for your laser correction procedure!
Photorefractive Keratectomy, or PRK, is an eye surgery that uses a laser to correct a wide variety of vision impairments such as astigmatism, farsightedness, and nearsightedness. The PRK process involves reshaping the cornea using an excimer laser. The excimer laser uses short wavelength light, with a cool, pulsing beam to remove tissue. The laser removes cells from the surface of the cornea instead of creating a flap and going underneath it, which is how LASIK is commonly performed around the country. Most patients who choose PRK, recover with 20/20 to 20/15 vision. This makes PRK an effective and favorable process that is a safer alternative to LASIK. PRK also has a lower risk of complications during the post op period. This is because the cells of the eye naturally regrow over the surface of your eye.
LASIK surgery and PRK are similar procedures as they both reshape the cornea. Where they differ is in the advantages, cost, and recovery time. PRK surgery has three different types of PRK procedures. These include, traditional PRK, alcohol-assisted PRK, and transepithelial PRK. Traditional PRK is the process of removing the corneal epithelium with an amoils brush. Alcohol-assisted PRK uses alcohol to do the same process. Often considered the gentler procedure, alcohol-assisted PRK is less abrasive on the eye which gives the patient a more comfortable recovery experience. Transepithelial PRK uses an excimer laser to remove the corneal epithelium, while the corneal reshaping is being performed, to provide a more efficient one-step method.
Modern refractive eye surgery was introduced in 1974, with a process called radial keratotomy, or RK. RK involves making small incisions on the cornea for those who suffered from nearsightedness. Over the years the process became more efficient and popular, leading to advancements in technology and an overall safer process that provides better results.
Throughout the world, PRK has been performed with a high success rate which has allowed it to maintain its popularity since the 1990’s. PRK began in the United States in 1995 and was the first surgery to use a laser instead of a knife to operate on the cornea. Originally nearsightedness was the main reason patients underwent this procedure. Thanks to advances in technology, patients can now choose PRK to repair astigmatism and farsightedness as well.
Patients who have a very thin cornea are typically the most ideal patients for PRK laser eye surgery. Thin tissue on the cornea often eliminates candidates from LASIK surgery, due to not being able to make a flap in the cornea. Also, patients who suffer from irregularities or scars on their cornea are also great candidates for PRK. PRK is likely going to benefit patients who are suffering from nearsightedness or farsightedness.
To be corrected to 20/40 or better, patients must have a history of normal, ocular health and a demonstrated stability in their prescription. Patients must also be at least 18 years old and pregnant mothers are prohibited from the surgery. Patients should have -1.00 to -12.00 diopters of myopia and pupils should be six millimeters or less once in a dark room.
Certain pre-existing conditions may prohibit patients from being an eligible PRK candidate. These conditions include granular corneal dystrophy type II, ocular disease, collagen vascular disease, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, or a history of side effects with steroids.
Most LASIK candidates are typically also candidates for PRK. Sometime patients may only qualify for PRK. 15% of patients are not eligible for either, on average.
The main advantage of PRK over LASIK, is the use of a solution to remove the cells of the cornea versus using an incision to make the corneal flap. With PRK, there is less risk involved and its usually considered a safer alternative. Also, the healing process is safer because the eye’s cells can regrow naturally over the eye with time. The outpatient procedure, is a quick procedure, taking only a few minutes and making it an efficient surgery that is favored for its simple process. PRK patients are also less likely to experience dry eye syndrome and do not require the prescribed, two-month eye drop routine that follows LASIK eye surgery.
Even though PRK is considered as efficient and as advanced as LASIK, there are some disadvantages to the procedure. Often, PRK can take longer to recover, and vision takes longer to be restored compared to LASIK. During the procedure, the epithelial cells are removed, these cells take a longer time to regrow. During this growth process, patients may have limited visibility for six weeks to two-months. While the cells regrow, you may find it hard to read, operate a vehicle, or use the computer during your post-op recovery time. The cells can grow back in just five days, but still vision may not be restored for several weeks. Since LASIK surgery creates a flap to gain access to the cornea, the natural suction of the eye seals it, leading to a quicker healing time.
Vision may worsen over the days following the PRK procedure. This is due to the missing cells on the cornea. Patients often experience a scratching feeling on the eye that varies in severity depending on the patient. For patients looking to correct both eyes, you may be advised to schedule surgeries for each eye separately. This way patients can rely on their untreated eye to complete everyday tasks, while the other eye heals. Usually during LASIK, both eyes are treated during the same time.
Another side effect of the procedure is eye redness and an excessive number of tears. Patients might be given bandage contact lenses to offer comfort and keep the surface of the cornea smooth. Prescription eye drops are also prescribed for added moisture. These drops can be used for several months to help maintain moisture during the recovery process. Most patients are also prescribed anti-inflammatory and pain relief medicines to help with any discomfort.
PRK patients can expect to have more discomfort than a LASIK patient. PRK patients may have discomfort or pain for up to four to six weeks following the procedure, while LASIK patients may only experience discomfort for four to six hours after the procedure.
The known complications that occur occasionally during the post-op period include dry eyes, increased sensitivity, corneal haze, glare or halos that are seen, recurrent erosions, or scarring.
Common questions people search for:
How much does LASIK cost in Atlanta, or LASIK eye surgery cost Atlanta, or Atlanta LASIK cost, or LASIK cost Atlanta. Here at Atlanta Vision Institute we designed a special guide to help answer those questions. Below you will find a summary of the guide.
The difference in price between the Two Methods of Laser Correction Vision
Each procedure is safe, but involve a few differences such as surgical procedures on the cornea, recovery process, and cost. The overall outcomes of PRK and LASIK eye surgery lead to permanent vision improvements. The results of these outcomes are proven to deliver a high level of satisfaction for patients.