LASIK vs PRK: Procedure, Recovery time, Benefits, Cost

LASIK vs PRK  , LASIK vs PRK: Procedure, Recovery time, Benefits, Cost
Image credit - Dr. tonys eye hospital

LASIK vs PRK these are both excellent forms of refractive surgery but in this article we are going to answer the following questions below:

- What's the difference LASIK and PRK?

- How the procedures are performed?

- What's the difference in recovery time?

- What's the difference in cost?

- Who ultimately makes the best candidate for LASIK vs PRK?


Now we are going to talk about two different forms of refractive eye surgery first one LASIK eye surgery and another one called PRK.

PRK has been around since the 1980s and stands for photorefractive keratectomy this procedure is a little bit different versus LASIK although both of them achieve very similar results in terms of visual acuity.


Difference in the procedures of PRK and LASIK?

The procedure of PRK-

PRK is done in the operating room where your surgeon has to first remove the very front surface of the cornea that's called the epithelium.


They can remove it either first using a kind of mechanical brush that kind of polishes the surface or they can use some type of alcohol solution which makes the front surface very kind of weak and easily removed.


After this, your surgeon uses an excimer laser this laser than vaporizes some of the tissue from the surface of the eye and sculpts the cornea to refract light inside the eye to give you good vision similar to what you'd have with glasses or contacts.


Now compare that basic procedure of PRK versus that of LASIK


The Procedure of LASIK-

LASIK stands for Laser-assisted in-situ keratomileusis. LASIK uses a different type of procedure where they slice part of the cornea and then create a flap in the cornea then this flap is then lifted off kind of like a hinge.


Then that same excimer laser that was used in PRK is then applied to the cornea just as well but then afterward they can lay that that flap back down and the cornea kind of self heals that allows you to see very well directly after the procedure.


Difference in the recovery time of PRK and LASIK?

Now one of the biggest differences between PRK and LASIK eye surgery has to do with recovery time.

The recovery time of PRK-

If you're somebody who goes through PRK because that front surface of the epithelium of the cornea has to be removed it's very similar to having a corneal abrasion or a scratch on the eye.


That surface needs to re-heal before you have better vision and you're not experiencing any discomfort after the procedure.


Your surgeon puts a bandage contact lens on the eye and that's a bandage lens that remains on the eye for about five to seven days all day and night then your eye doctor will remove that bandage lens.


During that time bandage lens protects the cornea from your eyelid from coming down and rubbing the eye as well as helping the healing process for that tissue once it's removed and your eye has re-epithelized that tissue has regrown back.

Then vision starts to be a lot better but during that initial five to seven day recovery period after PRK vision is often pretty fuzzy and a lot of people don't drive they don't go to work they just take things easy for that time period.


With PRK even after that five to seven day period as the surface re-heals even after that vision may never be quite just as clear as it will be it still takes some time for that cornea to heal up and patients are often still put on medicated steroid eye drops for many weeks after the procedure even up to several months to keep the cornea clear and to prevent it from hazing and to help get the prescription to stabilize right.

The recovery time of  LASIK-

Because LASIK doesn't have to remove that top layer surface of the cornea they just put that flap back into position and it kind of self heals because of that almost immediately after the procedure within the first 24 to 48 hours.


Vision is usually very excellent and there's very little discomfort after the procedure there still are prescribed medications antibiotic eye drops that you don't get an infection and steroid eye drops to help reduce any sort of inflammation and swelling of the eye.


In addition, patients are encouraged to use lubricating eye drops very frequently also sometimes even every hour after the procedure as dry eyes is a common complication after these procedures.


Benefits of PRK over LASIK

You might be kind of wondering why anybody would want to have PRK because LASIK seems to have faster results and is less complicated well the reality is both of these procedures although they have excellent results and very similar there are some benefits to having PRK vs LASIK and vice versa for some people.

1. Thickness of cornea.

2. Dryness of eye.

3. Lifestyle factor.


1. Thickness of cornea

In the PRK procedure because they're not creating that flap as they are with LASIK there's a little bit more tissue to give the surgeon leeway for the correction so individuals who have a higher prescription or they have less tissue of their cornea then that's something where PRK would be recommended to ultimately know how much thickness you have of your cornea.


The thickness of the cornea is a measurement done in the eye clinic called pachymetry and that's something that your eye surgeon or your preoperative doctor will assess for furthermore.


2. Dryness of the eye

LASIK eye surgery does sever corneal nerves and that can have a consequence of dryness afterward for some people especially individuals who have dryness even before these surgeries. In such cases, PRK has that advantage again because LASIK severs those nerves and predisposes them to a higher risk of dryness to the eye.


3. Lifestyle factor

This is another major factor to be considered such as people who are in martial arts or maybe you're in the military and you're more likely to be involved in some form of trauma after the procedure.


Military person (or person with this type of tough lifestyle) who have LASIK then his flap self heals basically 100% after three months but there's still, risk of trauma happens to the eye due to which flap could be dislodged and removed from the eye.


That would be an emergency absolutely and so for that reason individuals who are more likely to have some sort of trauma after the procedure may do better with PRK in the sense that there's no flap there for that to be removed.


Difference in the cost of PRK and LASIK?

Another frequent question that we get on the internet about LASIK vs PRK has to do with cost but it's pretty difficult to answer because it does vary so much between different professionals and the location now generally in the United States more specifically in Central Minnesota the general cost for both of these procedures are about the same somewhere between $1700-$2000 per eye.

Can LASIK it be allowed for Indian armed forces?

Answer- Yes, LASIK is allowed in the Indian Army and Indian Air Force but you have to fulfill the following criteria –

1. You must be older than 20 yr.

2. LASIK has been done before 6 or 12 months before your medical examination.

3. The residual corneal thickness should not be less than 450 microns.

4. The axial length of the eyeless than 25.5mm or 26mm.

while NDA do not allow LASIK or any other corrective surgery also colour blind and night blind candidates are not accepted in any armed forces.