Thursday, June 9, 2011

LASIK or PRK-Which is Best for Me?

“Both LASIK and PRK are excellent Laser Eye Surgery procedures for vision correction when they are used to treat appropriate patients with healthy eyes who want to decrease their dependency or even eliminate eyeglasses or contacts for seeing at a distance”, said Birmingham LASIK Surgeon and Corneal Specialist Marc Michelson, M.D. “While the long term visual results of both PRK and LASIK are pretty much identical, there are some differences that we always discuss with our patients”.

Patients who have LASIK may have very slightly reduced contrast sensitivity in dim illumination. If one uses extremely sensitive clinical measuring methods they can sometimes find a slight reduction in “low contrast” vision. Often it is so slight that the patient does not notice it except in the testing conditions or in very extreme instances of reduced contrast situations such as driving at dusk in the rain. Thus it is a limited problem for most patients.

The real differences between PRK and LASIK are based on the fact that PRK is a “surface laser treatment” and LASIK is a “lamellar laser treatment.” PRK is performed on the surface of the cornea whereas LASIK is performed between the layers of the cornea. “To do a LASIK surgery I use a 3-step procedure. First I use a laser to create the “flap”. Then I will gently fold the flap back and apply the laser and then finally I will replace the flap in its original position”, said Dr. Michelson. To perform a PRK is a single step procedure, just applying the laser. “Any procedure with multiple steps has a greater risk of complications. “Fortunately the risks, side effects and complications of LASIK are relatively few and minor so that if we tell you that you are a good candidate the risks are minor.” So, PRK does offer a safer risk profile because it is a single step procedure. However one of the not so subtle differences is that because it is a lamellar procedure, LASIK does not disturb the surface of the cornea during treatment. This provides patients with a much faster visual recovery and significantly less discomfort than PRK. This is why from a consumer perspective patients have tended to want LASIK eye surgery more than PRK. They can get back to pretty much normal activities within a couple of days without any real pain-just some mild discomfort-and with good vision. Most LASIK patients are able to pass a drivers test with 24-48 hours of their laser treatment. PRK patients often experience moderate discomfort that can last a few days and depending on the degree of their prescription can take a week or so to achieve good functional comfortable vision.

The best way for you or someone you know to find out if they are a good candidate for LASIK, PRK or any type of Laser Eye Surgery is to have an evaluation, examination and consultation at Michelson Laser Vision. Please feel free to schedule an appointment by calling us at 205-969-8100.