Are You a Good Candidate for PRK?

PRK Candidates - El Paso, TX

Feb 23, 2016 @ 10:00 AM — by Paul S. Gulbas, M.D
Tagged with: Prk | Eye Care |

A laser beam being directed into a patient’s eye during PRK surgeryAlthough LASIK gets the lion’s share of the press, PRK is an equally safe and effective laser vision correction procedure that has helped millions of people achieve clear, crisp vision without the need for glasses or contact lenses. As with LASIK, Dr. Paul S. Gulbas and Dr. Mark J. Gallardo carefully evaluate PRK candidates at our El Paso, TX eye care practice to ensure that they are qualified to undergo the procedure during their initial consultations. The good news is that even more patients are suitable candidates for PRK than are candidates for LASIK. In fact, many patients who are considered poor candidates for LASIK may be able to achieve excellent results through PRK.

Are you a good candidate for PRK, and if so, is PRK right for you? The only way to find out for certain is to schedule a consultation with Dr. Gulbas or Dr. Gallardo at El Paso Eye Surgeons today.

What Is the Difference between PRK and LASIK?

Given that PRK is often suggested as an alternative to LASIK, particularly to patients who are not good candidates for LASIK, you may be wondering how the two surgeries differ. The answer lies in how the underlying stromal layer of the cornea that is shaped by the excimer laser to improve vision is accessed. During LASIK, a hinged flap is created in the outermost layer of the cornea using either a precision blade called a microkeratome or an even more precise femtosecond laser. During PRK, the outermost layer of the cornea - the epithelial layer - is removed altogether.

After LASIK, the hinged flap reattaches and heals on its own, while after PRK, the epithelial cells grow back over time. As a result, the LASIK procedure involves a shorter, more comfortable healing process while the PRK procedure requires a longer recovery that involves some discomfort. However, the most common complications associated with LASIK involve the corneal flap. These complications do not exist with PRK.

Aside from how the stromal layer of the cornea is accessed at the beginning of surgery and the very different recovery periods, LASIK and PRK surgery are precisely the same. Both surgeries produce similarly excellent results.

Are You a Suitable Candidate for PRK?

The criteria for PRK candidacy is similar to that of LASIK. For example, in order to be a good candidate for PRK, you must:

  • Be at least 18 years old, and preferably 21.
  • Have had a stable eyeglass prescription for at least one year.
  • Have no significant corneal irregularities, aside from flaws in the shape of the cornea that can be corrected through the procedure.
  • Be free from autoimmune disease.
  • Not have diabetes or glaucoma.
  • Not be pregnant or nursing at the time of surgery.
  • Be fully aware of the risks and side effects associated with the surgery.

You must have a sufficiently thick cornea to undergo surgery; however, patients whose thin corneas make them poor candidates for LASIK may still be eligible to undergo PRK due to the lack of a corneal flap.

Find Out Whether You Are a PRK Candidate

To learn whether you are a good candidate for PRK, please schedule your initial consultation with one of our esteemed ophthalmologists by contacting El Paso Eye Surgeons today.