PRK and LASIK Surgeries

Anyone who has ever worn glasses or contact lenses knows of the hassles. Who wouldn't prefer just to wake up in the morning and see the wall or the ceiling clearly? Or to spontaneously take a nap without worrying about taking off your contact lens? Not surprisingly more and more people are choosing to correct their vision through surgery.

PRK (Photorefractive Keratotomy) and LASIK (Laser In Situ Keratomileusis) are two laser eye surgery procedures. Both produce the same outcome. However the procedures are slightly different, although both use lasers to reshape the cornea. The PRK procedure has a high success rate, with a record of low complications. Patients of the LASIK procedure, on the other hand, experience less post-surgical pain.

What is Treated?

PRK and LASIK are used to treat myopia (nearsightedness -- a vision condition in which nearby objects are seen clearly, but far-away objects do not come into proper focus. Nearsightedness occurs if your eyeball is too long or the cornea has too much curvature, so the light entering your eye is not focused correctly), hyperopia (farsightedness -- a vision condition in which distant objects are usually seen clearly, but close ones do not come into proper focus. Farsightedness occurs if your eyeball is too short or the cornea has too little curvature, so light entering your eye is not focused correctly), as well as astigmatism (a vision condition that occurs when the front surface of your eye, the cornea, is slightly irregular in shape. This irregular shape prevents light from focusing properly on the back of your eye, the retina. As a result, your vision may be blurred at all distances). A few surgeons have used this procedure to correct presbyopia (a vision condition in which the crystalline lens of your eye loses its flexibility, which makes it difficult for you to focus on close objects). This is a natural condition caused by aging and is usually experienced by people around the age of 40. It is important to note that PRK and LASIK do not treat diseases of the eye like glaucoma or cataracts.


In most cases, people return to work and normal activities within a couple of days. The protective layer of the eye takes about 3-5 days to heal, so it is important that the patient takes care during these recovery days.

Vision will be fine in about a day, although it will continue to fluctuate during the next couple of weeks. After the surgery, vision will be blurry or foggy. Patients will experience sensitivity to light. Knowing this, it is recommended that sunglasses be worn at all times.

Patients will usually be asked to not rub the eyes for two weeks. Swimming, makeup wearing, smoking or any activities that may cause foreign objects to come in contact with the eyes are also ill advised.


Of course, the cost of this procedure varies from region to region and from doctor to doctor. In determining a fee for this procedure, clinics take into account administrative costs, maintenance costs, pre- and postoperative time spent with the patient, as well as postoperative medications. The average cost is estimated to be anywhere from $1,200 to $2,500 per eye. The cost of this procedure, however, is dropping. The cost for the LASIK procedure tends to be a bit more because more equipment is used.



The outpatient procedure takes about 5-10 minutes per eye. Drops are applied to the eye as an anesthetic. In order for the eye to remain open throughout the whole procedure, a device called speculum is placed over the eye. A laser, called an excimer laser, is used to remove accurate amounts of tissue from the cornea.


About 1-2 percent of patients will get an infection or a hazy cornea after the procedure. Serious complications are extremely rare. Infection can usually be eliminated with antibiotic medications. Other possible problems include delayed surface healing and or scarring, over- or under-correction, and the development of astigmatism. These, and other problems can usually be treated with antibiotics.



Like PRK, LASIK procedure takes about 5-10 minutes. A suction ring is placed over the cornea of the eye after anesthetic eye drops are applied. The LASIK procedure uses two devices: the microkeratome and the excimer laser. The microkeratome is a mechanical "shaver" that moves back and forth at an excessive rate. The suction ring contains "guide tracks" that maintain an accurate path for the microkeratome. The microkeratome lifts the cap of the cornea, with a portion of the cornea left in tact to provide a hinge. The suction ring and the microkeratome are then removed. The middle portion of the cornea is exposed after the flap of cornea is folded back. Tissue is then removed and the center of the cornea is reshaped using the excimer laser. The hinged flap of cornea is folded back into its original location.


The side effects of the LASIK procedure are similar to those of the PRK. The most common side effects are temporary light sensitivity and halos. This is usually temporary. Infections can occur as well. This is an extremely rare occurrence. Antibiotics are usually used in the postoperative period.

20/20 Guarantee?
People eager to indulge in the dream of having 20/20 vision without glasses and contacts will be disappointed. As a matter of fact, almost all post-surgery patients still need to wear their contacts or glasses for night driving and reading.

Is it right for me?

Unfortunately not everyone can be a candidate for laser eye surgery. Since eye prescriptions fluctuate throughout adolescence, it is essential that a potential patient be at least 21 years of age and maintain the same prescription for about a year. Likewise, a candidate must not be pregnant or nursing at the time of the surgery. It is also important to take note of the fact that each person will react to the surgery differently depending on his or her healing process.

Subsequent surgery may be required for some people who have extremely high prescriptions and large pupils. They are also most likely to have night vision disturbance and dry eyes. Again, it is imperative to openly discuss these issues with the surgeon.


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