If you wear glasses or contact lenses, it’s a good bet that you’ve at least wondered about whether LASIK could be right for you. While LASIK is certainly a popular type of refractive surgery, it’s not the only type — and some people may be better off with an alternative treatment called photorefractive keratectomy or PRK.
At Advanced Lasik in Long Beach, California, Randa Garrana, MD, and her team customize every vision treatment plan based on each patient’s unique needs. That includes determining when LASIK is a good choice and when PRK might be a better option. In this post, Dr. Garrana offers a quick overview of PRK so you can understand when and why it may be better for you.
When we see, light passes through the clear cornea on the front surface of the eye and travels to the light-sensitive retina at the very back of the eye. Special cells collect the light data and transmit it to your brain via the optic nerve. The brain, in turn, “translates” this information into the images we see and recognize.
As light passes through your cornea, the curve of the cornea bends or refracts the light so that it focuses directly on the cornea, creating clear, crisp images. But if your cornea is misshapen — by a lot or even a tiny amount — that refraction also changes, and the images we see wind up looking blurry or fuzzy.
These refractive differences are called refractive errors, and they’re responsible for vision problems like:
Glasses and contact lenses use prescriptions designed to offset the refractive errors caused by your corneas.
Both LASIK and PRK are designed to treat refractive vision errors, but the way they do it differs. Those differences are what help determine which approach is best for helping you enjoy clear vision without corrective lenses.
In both PRK and LASIK, the cornea is reshaped to gently alter light refraction, resulting in clearer vision without the need for glasses and contact lenses (although some patients may still need them in certain situations). And both techniques use lasers to perform that reshaping. The main difference is in how they “access” the cornea.
In LASIK, the surgeon first makes a flap in the cornea, carefully “peeling back” the very upper layer of tissue so the inner corneal tissue can be reshaped by the laser. After the cornea is reshaped, the tissue layer is folded back over the cornea where it acts as a natural bandage.
In PRK, there’s no flap. Instead, Dr. Garrana gently removes the upper layer of tissue to expose the layer that needs reshaping. At the end of the procedure, she places a special contact lens over the eye. This lens acts as a bandage while the corneal tissue heals and regrows — typically within just a few days.
PRK has actually been around longer than LASIK, and for years, it was the go-to treatment for patients with refractive vision problems. Today, PRK is still a great, safe treatment option for patients who are not good candidates for LASIK, including patients with:
Before recommending any type of eye surgery, Dr. Garrana will examine your eyes, including your corneas, to determine which approach is the right one for you.
Ready to stop depending on your glasses or contacts for clear, crisp vision? Then call or book an appointment online today to learn more about laser refractive surgery options that can help you see more clearly.