Corrective eye surgery | Here’s an introduction
Until contact lenses were popularized in the 1950s, eyeglasses for at least the past seven centuries had been the only practical way to correct refractive vision errors. Nowadays, several modern approaches to corrective eye surgery range from laser reshaping of the eye’s surface in procedures such as LASIK and PRK to surgical insertion of artificial lenses to correct eyesight.
In LASIK, PRK, and similar procedures, laser energy reshapes the curvature of the eye’s clear front surface (cornea) to alter the way light rays enter the eye. Artificial lenses surgically inserted into the eye also can refocus light rays to sharpen vision.
Difference between PKR an LASIK Surgery
PRK was the first type of laser eye surgery for vision correction and is the predecessor to the popular LASIK procedure. Though PRK recovery takes a bit longer than recovery from LASIK eye surgery, PRK is still commonly performed and offers advantages over LASIK for some patients.
Like LASIK and other types of laser eye surgery, PRK works by reshaping the cornea using an excimer laser, allowing light entering the eye to be properly focused onto the retina for clear vision.
myopia, hyperopia and/or astigmatism, ineligible for LASIK
Procedure time: about 10 minutes per eye
Typical results: 20/20 vision without glasses or contact lenses
Recovery time: several days to several weeks
The main difference between PRK and LASIK is the first step of the procedures.
In LASIK, a thin flap is created on the cornea with a microkeratome or a femtosecond laser. This flap is lifted to expose the underlying corneal tissue and is replaced after the cornea is reshaped with an excimer laser.
In PRK, the thin outer layer of the cornea (epithelium) is removed and discarded prior to reshaping the underlying corneal tissue with an excimer laser. The epithelium repairs itself (grows back over the corneal surface) within a few days after surgery.
A variation of PRK, called LASEK, also is available. Instead of removing the outer epithelial layer of the cornea as with PRK, LASEK involves lifting the epithelial layer (using a surgical instrument called a trephine), preserving it during surgery and then replacing it on the eye’s surface at the end of the procedure.
LASEK has decreased in popularity due to the slower recovery of vision compared with PRK, as the replaced epithelial layer takes longer to recover in LASEK than the growth of a new epithelial layer in PRK.
The Evolution of Corrective Eye Surgery
Over the past 25 years, surgical techniques, tools, and procedures for vision correction have evolved rapidly.
Radial Keratotomy (RK), used in the United States primarily during the 1980s, involved cutting spoke-like incisions to flatten the eye’s surface mainly to correct nearsightedness.
But results, especially long-term, created problems for some individuals. Significant glare, regression, fluctuating vision, and other side effects such as night vision problems were common in patients who had RK for higher prescription strengths, while such side effects were less frequent in patients with lower prescriptions.
RK is now virtually obsolete as a primary vision correction procedure for these reasons and because of advances in laser vision correction procedures.
Photorefractive Keratectomy (PRK) was the first successful laser vision correction procedure used to remove tissue directly from the eye’s surface to change the curvature of the cornea. PRK, also known as surface ablation, was performed outside the United States during the 1980s and received FDA approval in 1995. PRK is still commonly used, but LASIK is by far the most popular laser procedure today.
However, PRK has made somewhat of a comeback in recent years because of studies indicating that PRK and LASIK produce similar outcomes. Also, nerve regeneration in the eye’s surface appears to take place faster with PRK than with LASIK following a procedure, which could have implications for reducing dry eye and other complications that might occur until the healing process is complete.
Because PRK is a surface procedure, there also is no risk of surgical flap complications. PRK does not involve creating a thin, hinged flap on the eye’s surface, as occurs with LASIK. PRK also appears to be a safer procedure in cases when a person’s cornea may be too thin for LASIK surgery.
Recent technological advances have given eye surgeons better methods of creating thinner flaps in a predictable way, meaning that people with thin corneas now might be candidates for a LASIK procedure.
However, you probably should consider a different type of vision correction procedure if you have a thin cornea and high degree of myopia that would require extra ablation to reshape the eye.
If it is something you are considering then let your optometrist advise and refer you to quality specialists in this field.
Top 5 reasons to get LASIK Surgery
Convenience of Clearer Vision
Freedom from dependence on glasses and contacts is life-changing. With clearer vision, you can perform simple tasks, like looking at the alarm clock or checking a medicine bottle, without searching for your glasses or putting in contacts. You can travel with ease and avoid worrying about packing or forgetting your lenses or cleaning solutions.
LASIK makes it easier to live an active lifestyle. You can take a long jog outside without worrying about your glasses falling off or fogging up. You can jump into a pool at a moment’s notice. You can play contact sports without worrying about shattering your glasses.
LASIK makes financial sense. Over time, you will save thousands of dollars by not having to buy contact lenses, eyeglass lenses, frames and the related accessories. Also, you may be able to pay for your LASIK surgery with a flexible spending account (FSA) offered by your employer, or through special patient financing programs offered by the surgeon.
LASIK typically does not involve a long, drawn-out recovery. Enjoy your results almost immediately! Many of our LASIK patients wake up the day after surgery with noticeably better vision. The results tend to improve over the next few days. Serious side effects are extremely rare.
Reduction in Allergy Symptoms
Some of our LASIK patients have noted a decrease in uncomfortable allergy symptoms like itchiness, red eyes and burning, because they no longer need to wear contact lenses. Patients that suffered from chronic headaches or sinus problems due to wearing glasses can find relief after LASIK.
Boost Your Style Quotient
If you don’t like the way you look with glasses (but can’t tolerate contacts), you’ll love your appearance after LASIK! You can go bare-faced and show off your beautiful eyes all the time. Pick out your favorite sunglasses without needing to swap out the lenses for prescription strength lenses.
Very important: Always discuss and make these decisions based upon a formal appointment with your optician, health care professional or eye surgeon.