The Difference Between LASIK and PRK

Laser vision correction has a rich history. It began with the discovery of the fact that exposing the cornea to laser radiation of a certain wavelength can vaporize the tissue without heating. Initially, corrections were made on the surface of the cornea, such an operation is called PRK. Then the technology was complicated and laser correction was proposed in the inner layers of the cornea, which significantly accelerated the restoration of vision and reduced postoperative discomfort in patients. This has led to the widespread use of laser correction throughout the world. So the Lasik operation has become the most popular way to get rid of myopia (nearsightedness), astigmatism, and hypermetropia (farsightedness).


PRK method

In the group of superficial laser corrections, this occupies a leading position today. After receiving full anesthesia, the first step of the PRK surgeon is to remove the epithelial layer from the cornea. It is evaporated with a laser or removed mechanically after a short exposure to a weak ethanol solution to “soften” the epithelium. The second stage is laser “polishing” of the cornea in order to change the radius of curvature. At the end of the operation, the operating surface is washed and covered with a special contact lens for a period of three days. After self-closure of erosion by the epithelium, the lens is removed, and the period of restoration of vision begins. This takes 2 to 4 weeks. The patient should be prescribed therapeutic drops for 1.5 months.

This operation is widely used in the following diseases of the eye optics:

LASIK method

In LASIK eye surgery, a thin outer flap is formed in the inner layers to “polish” the cornea. It consists of its own corneal tissue and epithelial layer. Cut with a special tool. The flap is formed on a pedicle, that is, it is not completely cut off from the cornea. The area under the flap is treated with an excimer laser, as in PRK eye surgery, the flap is returned to its place, the surgical area is washed, and excess fluid is removed. Thus, as a result of the operation, there is no corneal erosion (the epithelium is preserved), the radius of curvature is changed, and the flap retains the integrity of the cornea under the action of capillary forces. After a few hours, the patient is already evaluating the new vision. The next day, on examination, a significant increase in vision is determined. In the following days, vision remains at a high level with slight fluctuations. The patient drips medicinal drops for 7-10 days and moisturizes the eyes for up to one month.

This operation is widely used in the following diseases of the eye optics:

progressive myopia;

glaucoma (increased intraocular pressure);

cataract (cloudy lens of the eye);

retinal detachment, central dystrophy, and a number of retinal diseases;

inflammatory eye diseases;

pathology of the cornea and other eye diseases.

Currently, both methods of vision correction are used by all clinics. Despite the fact that PRK is technologically “outdated”, in some cases it has some advantages over all other methods of laser vision correction.

Often, those who decide to restore good vision have a dilemma: which method of laser correction procedure to choose, PRK or LASIK? These two techniques, performed by an excimer laser, today are quite in demand in our country and in the world as a whole. They have many things in common, but no fewer differences. At the same time, vision correction by PRK and LASIK methods have slightly different costs, which quite often becomes a decisive argument in favor of one or another method.

In the case when the LASIK method is chosen for laser vision correction, this is fully justified:

  • The procedure is characterized by a very fast postoperative recovery of vision function – only 1 day, almost complete absence of pain and discomfort, both during the operation and in the postoperative period.
  • This method is suitable for the correction of difficult cases (eg, myopia), and is characterized by the stability of the results obtained and the possibility of performing the operation simultaneously on both eyes.

In turn, the PRK operation is carried out in an absolutely contactless way. It can be performed in patients with thin corneal epithelium, which is a contraindication for LASIK.

During the PRK operation, first, the laser beam removes the upper layer of the corneal epithelium and, upon reaching the stroma, its modeling is performed to achieve the correct focus on the desired parameters. At the last stage of the intervention, a bandage (or a special lens) is applied to the eye, under which the upper burnt layer of the epithelium is restored for 3-4 days. This process is quite painful and there is a slightly greater risk of corneal clouding than in the case of LASIK.

Cost of PRK and LASIK procedures

Prices for PRK and LASIK operations are determined by the complexity of the case, as well as the qualifications and status of the surgeon performing the procedure. The average PRK cost is between $3,600 and $5,600 for both eyes. And the LASIK cost varies from $2,200 to $3,200 per eye. The price will also depend on the clinic you go to and the technology they use.

Thus, we can conclude that each of these methods is useful and has a tremendous effect. But which one you choose to do yourself or your surgeon will choose it, depending on your needs and capabilities.


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