LASIK vs. PRK-Which Is Better?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Should I have LASIK or PRK?

“For properly selected patients both PRK and LASIK can provide excellent results”, said Leslie Doctor, M.D., Corneal Specialist & LASIK Surgeon in Fairfield County.

The results of numerous long-term clinical studies show that both LASIK and PRK provide almost identical visual results. However there are some subtle differences as well as some not so subtle differences we like patients to know.

Patients who have LASIK may have very slightly reduced contrast sensitivity in dim illumination. If one uses extremely sensitive clinical measuring methods they can sometimes find a slight reduction in “low contrast” vision. Often it is so slight that the patient does not notice it except in the testing conditions or in very extreme instances of reduced contrast situations such as driving at dusk in the rain. Thus it is a limited problem for most patients.

The real differences between PRK and LASIK are based on the fact that PRK is a “surface laser treatment” and LASIK is a “lamellar laser treatment”. PRK is performed on the surface of the cornea whereas LASIK is performed between the layers of the cornea. To do a LASIK surgery requires first creating the “layer” or “flap” and then applying the laser to change the shape of the cornea. To do a PRK procedure it is a single step procedure-just applying the laser.  Whenever there are more steps in a surgical procedure there is always a greater possibility of risks, side effects and complications.

Fortunately the risks, side effects and complications of LASIK are relatively few and minor if you are indeed a good candidate and under the care of a top laser surgeon. So, PRK does offer a safer risk profile because it is a single step procedure. However one of the not so subtle differences is that because it is a lamellar procedure, LASIK does not disturb the surface of the cornea during treatment. This provides patients with a much faster visual recovery and significantly less discomfort than PRK. This is why from a consumer perspective patients have tended to want LASIK eye surgery more than PRK. LASIK patients can get back to pretty many normal activities within a couple of days without any real pain-just some mild discomfort-and with good vision. Most LASIK patients are able to pass a driver’s test with 24-48 hours of their laser treatment. PRK patients often experience moderate discomfort that can last a few days and depending on the degree of their prescription can take a week or so to achieve good functional comfortable vision.
To find out if you are a good candidate for LASIK, PRK or any Laser Eye Surgery for vision correction it is necessary to have an evaluation, examination and consultation. You can schedule an appointment with Corneal Specialist & LASIK Surgeon Leslie Doctor, M.D. by calling Doctor & Associates at 203-227-4113.