When it comes to refractive surgery, LASIK (laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis) is by far the most popular choice among patients. However, not all patients are good candidates for LASIK, which may lead them to pursue the primary alternative: PRK (photorefractive keratectomy). After weighing the benefits of each respective procedure, other patients choose PRK even when they are candidates for LASIK. Here, the ophthalmology team at Clarity Eye Group explain why PRK is the better choice for many of their patients.

How the Surgeries Differ

LASIK and PRK are both useful in correcting common refractive errors such as farsightedness, nearsightedness and astigmatism. With LASIK, the ophthalmologist uses a laser to make a small flap on the cornea, which is the clear layer covering the front of the eye. The flap is pulled back so that a second laser can access and reshape the cornea. Once the reshaping is complete, the flap is put back in position.

With PRK, rather than creating a flap, the ophthalmologist removes just the epithelium, or outer layer of the cornea to reshape the curvature. The epithelium grows back over the ensuing weeks; special contact lenses are provided to protect the eyes as this outer layer regenerates.

Why PRK Is Better for Some Patients

Both refractive surgeries are considered extremely effective and safe. PRK may have the edge when it comes to safety, however, since many of LASIK’s potential (but rare) complications are related to the corneal flap. By choosing PRK instead of LASIK, patients are lowering their risk of complications — the tradeoff being that recovery and visual acuity take longer to attain.

LASIK is often not recommended for patients with dry eye, irregular astigmatism and/or larger-than-average pupils. Fortunately, those who still want to improve their vision without having to rely on prescription eyewear may still be candidates for PRK.

Athletes, particularly those who engage in contact sports, may also want to consider PRK. Because an eye injury can jostle the corneal flap and cause a complication, those who are most at risk for an eye injury may wish to play it safe by undergoing PRK rather than LASIK.

Contact Clarity Eye Group

If you wear glasses or contact lenses to correct a refractive error and would like to lower your dependence on prescription eyewear, you are probably a good candidate for LASIK, PRK or both. To learn more about these procedures from one of our top doctors in Huntington Beach, please call (714) 842-0651 or request an appointment online.