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Why PRK?

There are two common procedures used today to treat the most prevalent forms of visual impairment: PRK (photorefractive keratectomy) and LASIK (Laser-Assisted In-Situ Keratomileusis).

Both of these procedures are effective and have proven track records of safety. While each treatment delivers incredible outcomes in their own right, there are several reasons why some patients might be better suited for PRK or LASIK. Below, we will address the key differences between each procedure.

What is PRK?

PRK, first performed in 1987, is a form of eye surgery in which a surgeon partially removes the surface layer of the cornea (called the epithelium) and then reshapes the corneal bed with the laser in the same way as LASIK. This technique is usually used for people whose cornea may be too thin to safely allow for the creation of the corneal flap required for LASIK. The procedure is used to correct nearsightedness (myopia), farsightedness (hyperopia) and astigmatism.

What are the differences between LASIK and PRK?

Both LASIK and PRK treatments deliver great visual outcomes and are equally safe. However, the way in which each treatment is performed differs slightly. With LASIK surgery, a thin, hinged flap is created on the cornea in order for the laser to access the treatment area. With PRK, the cornea’s epithelial layer (the outer layer) is partially removed to expose the area, but no flap is created. PRK (and, IntraLase SBK) is recommended for patients who have thinner-than-average corneas. It is also better-suited for those whose profession puts them at greater risk of getting hit in the eye and causing flap movement (e.g., boxers, martial artists, wrestlers or patients more prone to blows to the face). In both procedures, the excimer laser sculpts the inner layer of the cornea to correct the refractive error. The only difference with PRK is that the healing time is longer and the number of post-surgery visits is greater. Based on the results of your pre-operative consultation, your eye care professional will recommend the best option for you and your eyes.

Why am I better suited for PRK instead of LASIK?

While both the PRK and LASIK treatments deliver great visual outcomes, PRK is may be better suited for your eyes. PRK is the suggested surgery for patients with thinner-than-average corneas as this type of procedure does not require the creation of a corneal flap, therefore the thickness of the underlying tissue is preserved and remains available for treatment. In addition to thin corneas, some other reasons why a patient might be a candidate for PRK include:

  • If the patient has a scar on their cornea that impairs their vision;
  • If the patient’s eye has an area of epithelium that is poorly adherent to the underlying tissue and breaks down, causing pain;
  • If the patient’s cornea has a disease for which the removal of the issue is indicated and PRK is the only treatment option for this;

Want to learn more about the procedures offered at Coal Harbour Eye Centre? Book a pre-operative evaluation today to find out which treatment you are a suitable candidate for.