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PRK: A LASIK Alternative for Patients with Thin Corneas


Our doctors perform refractive surgery to treat nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism, helping patients reduce or eliminate the need for glasses and contact lenses. However, not all patients are ideal candidates for LASIK due to having thin corneas, having undergone previous eye surgery, or other characteristics. Fortunately, these patients can still be considered candidates for PRK (photorefractive keratectomy). This procedure offers the same benefits, but takes a different approach to reshaping the cornea. To find out if PRK is right for you, contact our El Paso, TX, practice and schedule a consultation with Drs. Paul S. Gulbas and Mark J. Gallardo

What is PRK?

Similar to LASIK, PRK is a procedure in which the inner layer of the cornea (stroma) is reshaped using an excimer laser to correct refractive errors and allow light to focus properly onto the retina. As opposed to LASIK, which requires creating a thin, hinged flap on the corneal surface (epithelium), PRK involves the removal of the entire epithelium. Although it is often considered a LASIK alternative, PRK was actually developed before the advent of LASIK.

Following your procedure, you will be required to wear a soft contact lens for up to a week, which will allow the epithelium to regenerate. Once healing is complete, the lens can be removed at our office, and your healing can continue. Typically, patients achieve the full extent of their improved vision within the first three months following surgery. Although the recovery time is longer than that following LASIK, most studies find that six months after surgery, LASIK and PRK patients experience similar results. 

PRK Benefits

PRK has helped many patients to achieve 20/20 vision or better. Although some PRK patients may still require glasses for reading or distance vision, most are able to drive and perform many other day-to-day tasks without the need for corrective eyewear. Patients experience an improved quality of life since they no longer have to constantly reach for their glasses. PRK also eliminates the risk of infection associated with daily contact lens use. 

PRK offers a unique benefit in that patients face no risk of complications associated with a corneal flap. For this reason, PRK is often recommended to patients who play contact sports, or those who work in fields such as law enforcement that can involve a higher risk of ocular injury. 

Which Procedure is Right for Me?

Despite the popularity of LASIK, not all patients are good candidates for the treatment. Because PRK does not require a corneal flap, it may be recommended to patients with thin corneas, those who have had previous eye surgery, or those who have corneal scarring. During an in-depth consultation, your ophthalmologist will take note of your corneal thickness, your lifestyle, and the state of your vision to determine if PRK or another refractive surgery is right for you.

Schedule a Consultation

If you suffer from myopia, hyperopia, or an astigmatism, and would like to learn more about correcting your vision through refractive surgery, contact our office today.

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