Refractive eye surgery has become a common solution for vision impairment. Refractive surgery procedures like LASIK reshape the cornea to correct the imperfections that cause vision impairment, and drastically reduce or completely eliminate a person’s reliance on prescription lenses.
When someone is interested in refractive eye surgery, LASIK is typically the procedure they first consider. While LASIK offers promising results, some patients are better candidates for PRK. Dr. Raul Peña helps individuals from the Harlingen, TX, area consider LASIK vs. PRK for vision impairment treatment.
LASIK is the most widely performed refractive eye surgery. During this procedure, an incision is made on the outer layer of the cornea. The incision creates a flap that, when lifted, allows access to the underlying corneal tissues. A high powered laser that is pre-programed to each patient’s unique specifications alters the underlying corneal tissues to reshape the cornea and eliminate imperfections that cause nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. LASIK is completed in a matter of minutes and provides almost immediate vision improvement.
LASIK surgery is highly effective. When recovery is complete, most patients achieve 20/20 vision or better. The recovery process itself is fairly short. Following LASIK treatment patients may experience minor to moderate side effects such as increased sensitivity, irritation, and dry, itchy eyes. Most side effects resolve within a few days to a week. Vision will continue to improve as the patient recovers, and typically stabilizes within two to six weeks post-surgery.
LASIK surgery addresses all the most common refractive errors, so it is a suitable treatment for many patients. The most important considerations for LASIK candidacy are age, a stable vision prescription, and the thickness of the cornea.
Since the eye continues to change as a person ages, LASIK surgery cannot be performed on patients under the age of 18. In addition, our Harlingen patients must have a vision prescription that has remained steady for at least two years. Finally, a patient’s cornea must be thick enough to accommodate the creation of a corneal flap. This is where some patients find out that they are not ideal LASIK candidates. Fortunately, individuals who are poor LASIK candidates due to cornea thickness are often ideal candidates for PRK.
PRK, or photorefractive keratectomy, is another laser vision procedure that is an alternative to LASIK surgery. PRK also reshapes the cornea to eliminate imperfections that cause the most common forms of vision impairment, but there is one important distinction between LASIK and PRK. PRK does not require the creation of a corneal flap.
During PRK, the entire top layer of the corneal tissue is removed so that the underlying tissues can be reshaped. This technique only removes five to 10 percent of the cornea’s total thickness (or roughly the thickness of one to three human hairs), so the procedure can be performed on patients with thin corneas.
Since the PRK procedure is different from LASIK, its recovery is a little different as well. Following PRK, our Harlingen patients will have a contact lens placed on the treated eye. This lens stays in place for around three to five days, while the surface of the cornea heals. Side effects of PRK are similar to those of LASIK, but they tend to linger a little longer.
And while visual results of PRK are also similar to LASIK, it takes longer for the vision to improve and stabilize after PRK. Most patients are able to drive within a week or two after their procedure, but it can take up to three months for optimal vision to be achieved.
Schedule an Appointment
If you want to enjoy clear, stable vision without the use of prescription lenses, you may be an ideal candidate for LASIK or PRK. To learn more about these procedures and which may be right for you, call (956) 264-1200 at your earliest convenience and schedule an appointment with Dr. Raul Peña.