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Home » Laser Vision Correction » LASIK vs. PRK –

LASIK vs. PRK – Houston, TX

PRK surgery has been used as a vision correction treatment for many years and was the standard for vision correction surgery before LASIK. Because some patients are not eligible for LASIK but may be eligible for PRK surgery, at Eye Excellence, board-certified ophthalmologist Mary T. Green, M.D., Ph.D., F.A.C.S., offers both options for patients residing in Houston, Missouri City or the surrounding areas in Texas.

Types of Surgeries

There are currently two types of laser vision correction surgeries available for treating vision problems, such as astigmatism, presbyopia, farsightedness, and nearsightedness. Both procedures involve reshaping the cornea to improve visual acuity.

Photo refractive keratectomy (PRK) was the first of these procedures and laser-assisted-in-situ keratomileusis (LASIK) followed soon afterward. LASIK addresses the same issues but takes a slightly different approach in the way it corrects aberrations that lead to vision problems.

The Differences between LASIK and PRK

LASIK is performed using a laser or blade to create a thin flap of tissue by making an incision in the cornea, allowing the surgeon to reshape the cornea’s inner layers when that flap of tissue is lifted. Any aberrations or curvature imperfections in the layers of the cornea that cause distorted vision are reshaped and repaired via the use of a computer-controlled surgical laser.

In PRK surgery, a thin layer of epithelial cells is wiped away. No flap of corneal tissue is created since the outer layer of the cornea is removed in order to allow a laser to reshape the cornea. Individuals who have been evaluated and found to have chronic dry eyes or thin corneas may be more suitable candidates for PRK surgery than for LASIK. Other patients may also fit in this category, depending on the criteria involved.

Both procedures are considered outpatient surgeries and require no general anesthesia, nor a long recovery period. It takes less than one minute for each eye to undergo laser treatment and the total procedure for each eye takes only about 15 minutes.

LASIK PRK
Name Details Laser-Assisted in Situ Keratomileusis Photo Refractive Keratectomy
corrective uses LASIK corrects refractive errors in the vision, including nearsightedness (myopia), farsightedness (hyperopia), astigmatism and presbyopia. PRK corrects refractive errors in the vision, including nearsightedness (myopia), farsightedness (hyperopia), astigmatism and presbyopia.
procedure length LASIK is a simple outpatient procedure. The laser treatment itself takes about one minute, but the entire procedure takes approximately 15 minutes per eye. PRK is a simple outpatient procedure. The laser treatment itself takes about one minute, but the entire procedure takes approximately 15 minutes per eye.
procedural notes A precision surgical tool called a microkeratome is used to create a “flap” in the cornea during LASIK surgery, and an excimer laser is used to reshape the cornea.The creation of this flap is the main difference between LASIK and PRK surgery.The microkeratome knife is used to cut the epithelium and stroma of the cornea to a thickness of between 100 and 180 microns.The excimer laser is used to reshape the corneal tissue under the flap. While LASIK surgery requires creation of a thin flap of corneal tissue, PRK surgery is performed without a flap after removing epithelial cells.The excimer laser is then used to reshape the cornea for improved visual acuity. Anesthetic drops and a sedative may be administered to prevent any discomfort.
healing & recovery Most LASIK patients report stabilized vision more rapidly than PRK and LASEK (a derivative procedure similar to PRK) patients. Recovery time may take between 2 and 7 days. Patients are able to drive approximately 1 to 3 days after surgery.Patients will notice clearer vision immediately following surgery. Although PRK was once the standard before LASIK, it is still a popular alternative for patients who are not good candidates for LASIK. PRK preserves more of the existing corneal tissue, and the visual acuity results are the same or better than results from LASIK. Recovery time after PRK surgery may last from 1 to two weeks with patients being able to drive about one week following surgery. Full visual acuity may require a process of approximately 6 to 8 weeks of healing. Some patients experience a mild scratchy sensation as the eye generates new epithelial cells following the surgery.

Differences in Recovery Time

The two primary differences between the LASIK and the PRK experience is the length of the recovery period and the amount of initial discomfort following surgery. This is due to the fact that with PRK, the outer layer of the cornea must heal fully to obtain visual clarity.

Dr. Green will prescribe eye drops (both anti-inflammatory and antibiotic) to PRK patients to assist the healing process and reduce potential discomfort. These drops are typically used for several months, as it can take six to eight weeks for a patient’s vision to sharpen following PRK surgery and as long as six months for vision to reach absolute clarity and peak acuity after PRK. Some patients report such symptoms as blurring, discomfort and other post-surgery concerns. However, most of these minor side effects clear up naturally one to three days after the procedure.

For those PRK patients who need to return to work shortly after the procedure, recovery may require anywhere from two days to a week, depending on the body’s natural healing capacity and overall health. Driving or using specialized machinery during the recovery period is not recommended for a period of approximately one week.

LASIK patients enjoy a much quicker recovery process, with little to no discomfort or symptoms that are usually mild and resolve quickly. LASIK patients will also require a few weeks in order to obtain best vision, but normal vision will be regained in just a few hours following the surgery. LASIK patients are typically cleared for driving about one to three days following the LASIK procedure.

Safe and Effective

Both types of laser correction surgeries are popular among patients from all walks of life and the procedures both have a high rate of patient satisfaction and a track record of being safe and effective for improving vision problems.

Determining the Need for Surgery

The only way to determine which type of surgery is most suitable for you would be by scheduling a consultation with a specialist such as Dr. Green, who can perform a complete eye exam and evaluation to determine which surgery is best for your condition. Most patients who undergo either surgery are usually delighted with the end result.

How Much Does PRK Cost in Houston?

  • Even if your insurance plan doesn’t cover vision correction, you can use cash, a credit card, or approved financing for payment.
  • Choose from no-interest plans, extended payment options up to 48 months and no down payment.

Please visit our financing page for more information.

How Much Does LASIK Cost in Houston?

  • Even if your insurance plan doesn’t cover vision correction, you can use cash, a credit card, or approved financing for payment.
  • Choose from no-interest plans, extended payment options up to 48 months and no down payment.

Please visit our Cost of LASIK page for more information.

The opportunity to improve your vision and the ability to lead a happy, healthy life are what the Eye Excellence staff, located in Houston and serving Missouri City and the surrounding areas of Texas, aim for every single day. To find out if you’re a good candidate for refractive surgery, contact Eye Excellence right away and schedule an appointment.