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LASIK and PRK

DISCLAIMER! The information on this website is general information. Please discuss with your surgical provider your concerns and questions about the procedure. Your personal health information may differ from the information presented here.

LASIK and PRK are laser treatments to correct vision and reduce patients’ need for glasses or contact lenses. These treatments work by changing the shape of the cornea to improve vision. These treatments are sometimes called corrective eye surgery for refractive errors.

The chance of having a vision-reducing complication after this procedure is less than 1 percent, and 90 percent of patients are legal to drive the next day.

Latest technology, expert doctors

Legacy Devers Eye Institute experts use the IntraLASIK laser technology for performing the first step of the LASIK procedure, providing more accurate and more predictable results than the traditional method. IntraLASIK technology is considered so safe and effective that it’s used by NASA for astronauts and by the U.S. military for combat forces.

At Legacy Devers Eye Institute–Laser Vision Services, iLASIK surgery is performed by ophthalmologists who are also fellowship-trained cornea specialists. Trained corneal specialists do all the screening before and after the surgery. Download a brochure about iLASIK.

For more information on these procedures, please contact Christina Kelley, LASIK surgery coordinator, at 503-413-6540.

For general information about surgeries to correct vision, go here.

Comparing LASIK & PRK

What is the difference between these procedures

LASIK and PRK are surgical techniques that use precise excimer laser energy to alter the refractive status of the eye. The difference in these procedures is where the excimer laser energy is applied.

LASIK?

LASIK consists of first making a corneal flap.  The corneal flap is made either with a mechanical device that uses a blade or with a laser. At the Devers Eye Clinic, we use a laser-based, blade-free approach with the lntralase laser. After the flap is created, the excimer laser removes small amounts of tissue underneath the flap on the bed of the exposed cornea.  Following the excimer laser treatment, the flap is carefully repositioned to complete the surgery.

PRK

PRK consists of the mechanical removal of surface cells on the cornea (the epithelial cells) after which the excimer laser is used to remove small amounts of tissue from the front of the cornea.

Both LASIK and PRK use the same excimer laser to reshape the cornea. The primary difference is that the tissue removal occurs under a flap with LASIK and on the surface of the cornea with PRK.

What are the advantages of LASIK?

  • There is very little discomfort both during and after the operation
  • Recovery of vision is rapid, and many people have useful vision within one day of surgery
  • If the outcome of the initial procedure does not meet your and our expectations, then often we can perform a retreatment. This is after at least three months after surgery and consists of either re-lifting the flap or performing  a treatment on the surface (like PRK)

What are the disadvantages of LASIK?

  • BecauseLASIK involves cutting a flap, it involves surgery that is deeper into the layers of the cornea. This could excessively weaken corneas of patients with thin corneas.
  • The creation of the flap cuts corneal nerves and can increase dry eye symptoms in patients who are predisposed to this problem.

What are the disadvantages of PRK?

  • PRK avoids having to make a LASIK flap.  This leaves a greater portion of the cornea untouched by surgery,  which is particularly important in patients who have thinner corneas.
  • There appears to be more  rapid  recovery  of corneal  nerve function  which  may minimize the amount of dry eyes after  the  procedure
  • If eye trauma were to occur following laser refractive surgery,  there is less risk of complications with  PRK than with  LASIK.  With  LASIK, the flap can, in very rare instances,  become elevated or partially dislodged if the eye is struck with significant force at a certain angle and with a certain size object.  This is not possible with  PRK, as there is no flap.  In PRK, the trauma may cause a surface abrasion,  but without a flap, the abrasion would be the same as in an eye that has never had laser surgery.

What are the disadvantages of PRK?

  • There can be some moderate eye discomfort for the first few days following  PRK. It may take several days for visual recovery with good vision requiring 7-10 days, or in rare cases even longer depending on the extent of the treatment. Most patients are able to drive and return to work with 3-6 days after  PRK,  although this can vary depending on each individual case.
  • As in LASIK, if the outcome of the original treatment does not meet your and our expectations, re-treatment can be performed. PRK would be performed for retreatment.
  • PRK requires longer post-operative eye drops for up to 2 months after surgery. The purpose of these drops is to minimize the risk of development of haze in the cornea after the procedure.

How do we decide which procedure to recommend to our patients?

  • The decision to perform either  LASIK or PRK is very individualized per patient. Many factors will be examined during your comprehensive examination with your physician including the degree of treatment,  the thickness of the cornea, the shape of the cornea,  and the status of dryness of the eye.  Your physician will recommend the best and safest option for your individual eye.