Battle of the Acronyms — the Difference Between PRK and LASIK

By Eye Institute of Houston
January 15, 2016

Everyone knows about LASIK (laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis) eye surgery. It can take a person who has lived his or her entire life dependent on glasses to see the alarm clock and give that person perfect vision. But sometimes patients at the Eye Institute of Houston don’t quite fit as candidates for LASIK.

In those cases we often perform photorefractive keratectomy (PRK).

Why can’t some people have LASIK?

Although it is rare, some people don’t qualify as good candidates for LASIK. Some of these patients have larger pupils or thin corneas that do not work for the LASIK procedure.

What’s the difference between LASIK and PRK?

LASIKIn LASIK, a flap is created on the outer cornea by a laser microkeratome. This flap is then gently folded back to expose the underlying surface of the cornea. A computer-controlled amount of laser energy is then used to remove the desired amount of cornea tissue to correct the shape of the cornea and create vision correction. Corneas that aren’t the correct shape create refraction problems that lead to issues such as near- or far-sightedness. Once the cornea tissue is removed, the corneal flap is placed back into its original position and allowed to heal. No sutures are needed. The whole process only takes seconds, and the patient experiences significant improvement in their vision anywhere from one to five days after the procedure.

In PRK, the corneal epithelium is removed and discarded, unlike in LASIK where a flap is made and later placed back down. Since this layer is removed in PRK, the eye has to regenerate those cells in recovery. Once the corneal epithelium is removed, the laser is then used to reshape the cornea, as is done in LASIK. Recovery isn’t quite as fast with PRK as LASIK, but the results of the procedures are similar.

Can’t have LASIK? See clearly with PRK

So, if you don’t qualify for LASIK, PRK is a similar surgery that will provide similar results. We’ll discuss your options when you come in for your consultation. If you’re tired of glasses or contacts, call us at 713-668-7337 and let’s talk.




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