When you make the decision to seriously consider having LASIK vision correction, you may be frustrated if you learn the procedure is not right for your eyes due to thin corneas. However, that frustration may turn into renewed excitement if your eye doctor informs you that PRK (photorefractive keratectomy) or Epi-LASIK is a better option – especially when you learn that you can achieve the same vision results with these procedures.
How PRK and Epi-LASIK Differ from LASIK
At the heart of the procedure, all three techniques involve the use of an excimer laser to remove tiny amounts of corneal tissue to create a more ideal shape and correct a refractive error (nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism). This allows light to focus on the retina for clear vision.
How your doctor accesses this corneal tissue is where the procedures differ:
- LASIK: your doctor creates a hinged corneal flap that is folded back for excimer laser treatment and then replaced on the cornea where it begins to heal immediately. There is a risk of flap complications with LASIK.
- PRK: your doctor removes a thin layer of tissue on the cornea (the epithelium). After the excimer laser treatment is complete, the epithelium needs time to grow back, which typically takes 3-5 days.
- Epi-LASIK: a very thin flap is created on the cornea (thinner than a LASIK flap). This is accomplished by using an epithelial separator to loosen the cells so a very thin flap can be folded back for excimer laser treatment.
These are all outpatient procedures. PRK will take slightly longer than LASIK, but the treatment is still typically under 30 minutes for most patients.
The recovery time for PRK is typically longer than with LASIK because of this regrowth period, and you may experience more discomfort during the healing process. Your final vision outcome will also take longer than with LASIK but 20/20 vision is often achieved with this procedure.
The flap will be replaced on your eye, but because it is so thin, your doctor may apply a temporary soft contact lens to serve as a bandage as your epithelial cells regrow. This will be removed in a few days. You may experience some discomfort as your eyes heal. Your final vision outcome will also take longer than with LASIK but 20/20 vision is often achieved with this procedure.
So, which is better: PRK, Epi-LASIK or LASIK?
The answer to this question depends on your eye anatomy and eye health. Only a qualified, experienced ophthalmologist can perform the level of assessment needed to identify the right treatment for you. The doctors at NewView Eye Center can do just that…and we’ll do it for free.
Contact us today to schedule your free Consultation.