There are different types of laser eye surgeries, contrary to what most people know and perceive. Each type of procedure differs from the other and each has its own strengths and weaknesses. Most of us are familiar with the more modern forms of eye procedures like LASIK. However, it may help to know about the predecessors of such modern procedures so we can better understand laser eye surgeries. Read on to learn more about PRK and LASEK.
This procedure, also called PRK, has been available since the late 1980s. It is believed to be the original form laser eye surgery. It is ideal for persons with low prescriptions of nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism whose vision problems cannot be cured with other types of eye surgeries.
- Anesthetic drops are applied on the eyes for numbing.
- The epithelium or the thin and protective layer of cells covering the cornea is scraped off manually.
- Laser is used to shape the cornea to improve its ability to focus.
- The entire PRK laser eye surgery takes around 20 minutes to complete.
- A protective bandage contact lens is placed over the affected eye. This is done while the epithelium is still in the process of healing, which can take about four to seven days.
Advantages and Disadvantages
- Currently, this procedure is rarely performed due to the presence of superior and more accurate types of eye surgeries.
- Your eyes may be painful for two to three days after the procedure is performed.
- Normal vision can be restored after a day or two from the time you underwent the laser eye surgery. Note, however, that immediately after the surgery, you may experience having slightly blurred vision which can last up to three months. This is the time when your epithelial cells are still healing.
- You need at least a week off from work to recuperate.
- Since no flap is cut into the cornea, it not as invasive as other procedures and it poses a lower risk of weakening the cornea.
LASEK is another type of laser eye surgery that resembles PRK.
- The epithelium is softened with alcohol for 30 seconds.
- The surgeon moves the epithelium to the side.
- The cornea is lasered.
- The epithelium is replaced.
- You need to use a contact lens for four to five days after the procedure to help the healing of the epithelium.
Advantages and Disadvantages
- Less aggressive compared to the PRK
- Heals faster because part of the epithelium is retained
- Advisable for people with thin corneas and those with high prescriptions who cannot undergo other types of laser eye surgeries.
- More of the cornea is retained since only the outer surface layers are removed.
- It is more uncomfortable for patients to undergo this procedure.
- Restoration of normal vision takes longer than other kinds of eye surgeries.
Both PRK and LASEK require a bandage contact lens to worn for about 4 days straight to assist in the healing process. Even though they are not as marketable as the more popular LASIK procedure, they certainly have a huge role to play in laser eye surgery. Approximately 20% of suitable laser eye surgery candidates should have these procedures to minimize their chance of complications.