Laser eye surgery has been around longer than you might expect. However, many people don’t realize that PRK laser eye surgery is actually the granddaddy of laser vision correction techniques, and it was followed by the creation of alternatives like LASIK some years later. Today there are multiple options available, but PRK is still the preferred technique for many patients.
PRK surgery involves reshaping the corneal tissue so that the refractive errors that the patient experiences are corrected, and their vision improved. Although there is no guarantee that you will be able to see perfectly without needing glasses or contact lenses, this is the case for the vast majority of patients.
The primary difference between PRK laser surgery and alternatives like LASIK is in the access to the corneal tissue. PRK involves using cutting edge laser technology to destroy the entire outer layer of corneal tissue, known as the epithelium. This enables your laser surgeon to have unencumbered access to the underlying corneal tissue to be reshaped. After the procedure, your eyes are left to heal, and the epithelium will regenerate over the following few days. During this time, your eyes may be uncomfortable and your vision blurry. Your eyes may feel scratchy and sensitive, and you will be given eye drops and possibly pain relief to help ease any discomfort that you feel.
Once the epithelium has healed, you will move on to the second stage of healing. During this time the eyes are no longer uncomfortable, but initially, you can still expect your vision to be blurry. As this phase of your recovery continues, your eyesight will gradually start to improve.
Exactly how long you will experience blurry vision will depend on the level of correction made to your eyesight and your own, natural healing process. The first few weeks after your procedure will see you experiencing significant fluctuations in your vision. Your eyesight will then continue to improve until your vision becomes stable. This may take anywhere from a few weeks to a maximum of six months. Until your vision becomes stable you will. Need to rely on a pair of glasses to assist you with critical distance vision activities – for example, driving when it is dark.
Knowing that your eyes are healing as they should be is one of the primary concerns for patients after their PRK surgery. However, you can rest assured that your recovery will be closely monitored by your PRK laser eye surgeon to ensure that healing is progressing, and your vision is improving. Plus, if you are at all concerned you can contact your surgeon’s offices between post-operative appointments.
While the healing process may be shorter for LASIK patients, the risk of complications is significantly greater. This is because the LASIK technique involves creating a flap in the epithelium rather than removing it completely. This flap requires replacement after the procedure. However, this part of the process does not always go to plan. If the flap does not lay perfectly flat it can cause visual disturbances, and there is a fairly high risk of specks of dust or debris becoming trapped under the flap when it is closed. There is a chance that the epithelium may be slightly thicker around the edges of the flap which could also interrupt your vision.
PRK is a much better option for patients who want to avoid the risk of flap complications, as well as those with thinner corneas for who LASIK is simply not appropriate.
If you would like to find out more about PRK laser eye surgery, our experienced and friendly team would be happy to help. Please contact our offices today for more information or to schedule an appointment.