LASIK and PRK operate on the same basic principles of laser vision correction. Because the shape of the cornea remains fixed for most people once it achieves its final shape in your late teens or early 20s, a cornea that is not properly shaped to give good vision can be reshaped to improve the quality of a person’s vision. Using a special laser, parts of the cornea can be removed to correct many types of visual problems, such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism.
The two procedures differ in where on the cornea the reshaping is performed. In PRK, the reshaping is performed on the outside of the eye and involves removing the outermost layer of the cornea, called the epithelium. This layer of the cornea grows back, but people with PRK don’t experience their visual correction results until that regrowth is complete, typically a week or so after surgery.
In LASIK, the correction is performed in the middle layer of the cornea, which requires creating a flap in the outer part of the cornea so it can be lifted aside and laid flat again after the procedure is complete. This allows a LASIK patient to experience clear vision immediately after LASIK.
PRK was a predecessor to LASIK, and some people think it does not give the same quality results. However, modern PRK is performed with the same technology as modern LASIK and after the eye has recovered from the procedure the quality of results are comparable.
To learn more about PRK, LASIK, and which is right for you, please contact Silverstein Eye Centers in Kansas City.