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Is PRK Laser Eye Surgery the Right Choice for You?

3rd June, 2013  

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While LASIK is by far the most popular laser eye procedure today, its predecessor Photorefractive Keratectomy (PRK) is still available at many clinics and is one of the cheapest types of laser eye surgery, with prices starting at around £700 per eye. PRK used to be the leading type of laser eye surgery before procedures with quicker recovery rates such as LASIK eye surgery became so popular. With a shorter recovery rate than PRK, LASIK gained popularity quickly. However, the affordable PRK procedure still appeals too many patients who have low to moderate refractive errors as success rates are just as high as LASIK procedures.  So if you are considering improving your quality of life with laser eye surgery, what are the key points to consider before having PRK surgery?

There are similarities between PRK and LASIK surgery, one of which been the Excimer laser used in the operation. However, whereas the laser is used to cut a flap in the cornea with LASIK surgery, PRK uses the laser to completely remove a layer of the cornea’s surface. During the time that this layer heals and naturally replaces itself, the patient will notice improvements in their vision. One drawback of the operation is the time in which this healing process takes to complete, with patients having to wait a number of months before noticing improvements in their vision.  Due to this longer healing process, patients will usually choose to have one eye treated at a time in PRK surgery. With much speedier recovery times, it is understandable why LASIK and LASEK have become more popular types of laser eye surgery.

Despite the longer recovery period, PRK surgery remains the favoured operation for patients that are involved in contact sports such as boxing and rugby. Military doctors also prefer PRK over LASIK surgery. This is because there is a popular opinion that the flap cut in the cornea may loosen and become unhinged during combat. However despite the more stable condition of the eyes after PRK surgery, there have been reports of regression after the PRK healing process is completed. Sometimes a patient will require an enhancement and the surgeon must repeat the surgery. Patients should also be aware that with the onset of presbyopia, they will probably require vision correction for reading or close work. Presbyopia is an unavoidable symptom that usually occurs from the age of 40, even if you’ve never had a vision problem before. Near vision becomes blurred due to the gradual thickening and loss of flexibility of the natural lens inside your eye which often causes the effects of PRK surgery to regress.

The results of PRK and LASIK eye surgery are life changing with both operations relatively quick, pain-free and extremely safe. The type of laser eye surgery you should have depends on why you need it and what your eyes are like. Whilst this article aims to inform you of the benefits of both, it is important to follow the guidance and judgment of your eye surgeon to determine whether PRK or LASIK is best for your individual circumstances.

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