Having clear eyesight is very important. It allows you to do tasks easily and effectively, lead a fulfilling life, and the like.
Nonetheless, there are many ailments that negatively impact an individual’s eyesight. For instance, old age usually leads to the formation of cataracts among the elderly. In fact, according to statistics, more than 65 million people worldwide suffer from cataracts.
Cataract isn’t the only eyesight disorder that negatively affects a large portion of the populace. Other eyesight issues include nearsightedness (myopia), farsightedness (hyperopia), and astigmatism. Luckily, the aforementioned disorders can easily be treated by expert ophthalmologists by using the power of lasers through photorefractive keratectomy or PRK and laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis or LASIK.
This post will cover what LASIK and PRK are and how they’re carried out, the various eyesight disorders they fix, the cost of laser procedures, and many more. If you want to learn more, continue reading below.
What Are Refractive Errors
PRK and LASIK work to fix myopia, hyperopia, and astigmatism. But what are these three? They’re what experts regard as refractive errors of the eye.
Refractive errors are a class of eyesight disorders that prevent an individual from seeing clearly due to the shape of the eye, which prevents the light from focusing properly on the retina. Symptoms of refractive errors include but aren’t limited to double vision, blurred vision, persistent headaches, and the like.
As mentioned, refractive errors can be easily treated. Upon diagnosis by an ophthalmologist, a patient with a refractive error will be asked to wear prescription glasses or use contacts to correct their vision. They’ll also be offered to undergo refractive eye surgery to permanently fix their vision. These corrective procedures are PRK and LASIK.
If you’re suffering from a refractive error and are considering refractive eye surgery, you’ve probably heard of LASIK and PRK. These two surgeries are the most common types of laser vision correction, and they can both help you achieve clearer vision without glasses or contact lenses. But what’s the difference between PRK and LASIK? And which one is right for you? Read on.
What Is PRK
PRK is an older type of laser vision correction. It works by removing the layer atop the cornea, the clear front surface of the eye. This layer of cells is called the epithelium.
Once the epithelium is removed, the surgeon uses a laser to reshape the cornea. The new shape of the cornea will focus light correctly onto the retina, the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye.
What Is LASIK
LASIK, or laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis, is a newer type of laser vision correction. It’s similar to PRK, but instead of removing the epithelium, the surgeon creates a thin flap in the cornea. The surgeon then folds back the flap to expose the underlying tissue. Then, the laser is used to alter the shape of the cornea, and the flap is folded back into place.
Cost Of Laser Eye Surgery
The cost of laser eye surgery varies depending on the procedure, the surgeon, and your location. Nonetheless, you can expect to pay between USD$2,000 and USD$4,000 per eye for LASIK. PRK is typically slightly less expensive than LASIK, costing between USD$1,500 and USD$3,000 per eye.
Keep in mind that not a lot of health insurers cover LASIK and PRK procedures because they consider them elective surgeries. Make sure that you reach out to your health insurer to find out if they cover LASIK and PRK, as well as other fees such as doctor’s fees and the like.
Luckily, there are specialized insurance plans that offer more comprehensive coverage packages that may include LASIK and PRK. You can check them out over the web.
Comparing PRK And LASIK: An Analysis
It’s essential to delve into the key differences between the two procedures to make an informed decision between PRK and LASIK.
- Recovery Time: LASIK typically boasts a faster recovery period, with most patients experiencing significant vision improvement within a few hours or days. PRK, on the other hand, may entail a longer recovery, with initial discomfort and blurry vision lasting for several days.
- Pain: LASIK generally involves minimal pain or discomfort during the procedure and the initial recovery period. PRK, in contrast, may involve mild to moderate pain for the first few days after surgery.
- Risk Of Complications: Both procedures carry a minimal risk of complications, such as infection, dry eyes, or vision disturbances. But LASIK may pose a slightly higher risk of flap-related complications, such as flap displacement or wrinkles.
- Cost: PRK is typically less expensive than LASIK, primarily due to its simpler procedure and shorter surgical time.
Ideal Candidates For PRK And LASIK
Considering the distinct characteristics of each procedure, certain individuals may be better suited for one over the other.
PRK is a suitable option for those who:
- Have thin corneas, as removing the epithelium may further reduce corneal thickness, potentially increasing the risk of complications.
- Experience dry eyes, as PRK may exacerbate dryness during the initial healing phase.
- Engage in active sports or activities that could dislodge a LASIK flap.
- Seek a more cost-effective option.
LASIK is a favorable option for those who:
- Prioritize a rapid return to normal activities and clear vision.
- Desire minimal pain or discomfort during and after the procedure.
- Are not concerned about a slightly higher risk of flap-related complications.
- Are willing to invest in a more advanced procedure.
Additional Factors To Consider
Beyond the primary distinctions between PRK and LASIK, several other factors should be considered when making a decision:
- Age: LASIK is typically recommended for individuals over the age of 18, as the cornea continues to develop during adolescence.
- Overall Health: Certain medical conditions, such as autoimmune diseases or uncontrolled diabetes, may increase the risk of complications from either procedure.
- Lifestyle: Individuals with active lifestyles or those who work in dusty or hazardous environments may benefit from the faster recovery and lower risk of flap-related complications associated with LASIK.
- Expectations: Clearly define your expectations for the outcome of surgery. Discuss your desired level of vision improvement and any potential side effects with your eye doctor.
Making An Informed Choice: Consult Your Eye Doctor
The decision of whether to undergo PRK or LASIK is a personal one, influenced by a combination of individual factors, preferences, and expectations. It’s crucial to engage in a comprehensive discussion with your eye doctor to assess your suitability for each procedure, understand the potential risks and benefits, and determine which option aligns best with your unique eyesight needs and circumstances.
Managing Post-Operative Care
Following either PRK or LASIK, adhering to post-operative care instructions is essential to optimize healing and minimize the risk of complications. These instructions may include:
- Eye Protection: Wear protective eyewear to prevent accidental injury to the cornea.
- Medications: Utilize prescribed eye drops or medications as directed to control inflammation, prevent infection, and promote healing.
- Activity Restrictions: Avoid strenuous activities, particularly those involving dust or debris, to minimize the risk of corneal irritation or flap dislodgement (LASIK).
- Regular Eye Exams: Schedule regular follow-up appointments with your eye doctor to monitor healing progress and address any concerns promptly.
The journey to clearer vision through refractive eye surgery requires careful consideration, informed decision-making, and adherence to post-operative care guidelines. By understanding the nuances of PRK and LASIK, evaluating your individual factors, engaging in open communication with your eye doctor, and meticulously following post-operative instructions, you can confidently embark on this path to enhanced vision and improved quality of life.