LASIK or PRK-Which Should I Have?

Baltimore Washington Eye Center, Maryland

Thursday, June 9, 2011

LASIK or PRK-Which Should I Have?

“Patients should know that both LASIK and PRK are excellent vision correction procedures when prescribed for the right patients with realistic expectations,” offered Corneal Specialist and LASIK Surgeon Brad Spagnolo, M.D. at Baltimore Washington Eye Center. Here are some considerations for you to know and understand about PRK vs. LASIK. First, the long-term clinical studies comparing PRK and LASIK show that the ultimate visual results of both types of laser treatment are virtually identical. However, there are some subtle differences, as well as some not so subtle, differences.

Patients who have LASIK may have very slightly reduced contrast sensitivity in dim illumination. Often it is so slight that the patient does not notice it except in the testing conditions or in very extreme instances of reduced contrast situations such as driving at dusk in the rain. Thus it is a limited problem for most patients.

The real differences between PRK and LASIK are based on the fact that PRK is a “surface laser treatment” and LASIK is a “lamellar laser treatment.” PRK is performed on the surface of the cornea whereas LASIK is performed between the layers of the cornea. To do a LASIK surgery, it is a 2-step procedure-one to create the “layer” or “flap” and one to apply the laser. To do a PRK is a single step procedure, just applying the laser. Thus, whenever you have a multi-step eye surgery procedure there is always a possibility of greater risk. Fortunately the risks, side effects and complications of LASIK are relatively few and minor if you are indeed a good candidate. So, PRK does offer a safer risk profile because it is a single step procedure. However one of the not so subtle differences is that because it is a lamellar procedure, LASIK does not disturb the surface of the cornea during treatment. This provides patients with a much faster visual recovery and significantly less discomfort than PRK. This is why from a consumer perspective patients have tended to want LASIK eye surgery more than PRK. They can get back to many normal activities within a couple of days without any real pain-just some mild discomfort-and with good vision. Most LASIK patients are able to pass a drivers test with 24-48 hours of their laser treatment. PRK patients often experience moderate discomfort that can last a few days and depending on the degree of their prescription can take a week or so to achieve good functional comfortable vision. Thus, the best thing to do if you are considering Laser Eye Surgery for vision correction, is to schedule a consultation with Dr. Spagnolo so that he can carefully review you individual situation and help decide whether LASIK or PRK might be the best choice for you. Please feel free to phone Baltimore Washington Eye Center at 410.761.8258 to schedule an appointment.