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Is PRK Surgery the Superior Option for You?

Thursday, April 10, 2014 @ 07:04 AM
Author: Amit Mathur

Is PRK Surgery the Superior Option for You

LASIK surgery is the most popular surgery for correcting minor vision problems such as nearsightedness and farsightedness. More than 8 million people have received the surgery to date.
However, not all patients are candidates for LASIK surgery. In order to get the surgery, patients must have stable vision (meaning that their vision has not worsened in the previous year), they must have a minimum strength prescription, and they must have good overall eye health, as well as good general health.
Some patients who are not able to get LASIK surgery may qualify for PRK, or photorefractive keratectomy, surgery instead.

About PRK Surgery

Many vision problems are caused by a distortion in the shape of the cornea. The cornea focuses light that shines on the eye and transmits it to the retina, where it produces an image. If the cornea has an irregular shape, the light may not focus properly, contributing to blurry vision. In some cases, objects that are close may be blurry (farsightedness), objects that are far away may be blurry (nearsightedness), or all objects may be blurry in general (astigmatism).

Both LASIK surgery and PRK surgery work to correct vision by reshaping the cornea. In LASIK surgery, a flap is made by cutting into the cornea, allowing the laser to enter and remove tissue. In PRK surgery, no incision is made, and the cornea is resurfaced from the outside. Only tissue from the top layer of the cornea is removed for the reshaping. The top of the cornea is slightly flattened to address nearsightedness, while a steeper grade is created to address farsightedness. The surgery smooths out irregularities on the surface of the cornea to address astigmatism.

The whole procedure only takes a few minutes, and it is performed while numbing agents have been administered in the patient’s eye. A protective contact lens is placed over the eye while it heals.

The surgery can also be administered after cataract surgery to improve vision.
Who Should Get PRK Surgery?

Most patients who choose PRK surgery over LASIK are those who meet all the same qualifications for LASIK but who have thin corneas. With thin corneas, these patients would be at risk for major complications with LASIK, which requires cutting into the cornea.

Other qualifications for the surgery include:

• Stable vision. Patients should not have experienced any changes in their vision within the last year.

• Minimum prescription. Most patients should have a refractive error of between +5.00 and -12.00 diopters to qualify for PRK surgery.

• Good overall health.

Patients who are disqualified from LASIK because of their work or recreational activities may also find PRK surgery to be a good alternative. For example, athletes who participate in contact sports like wrestling or boxing cannot undergo LASIK surgery because the impact could damage the cornea after it has been opened. The PRK surgery is not as invasive, so it is available for athletes and all types of employees.

Who Can’t Get PRK Surgery

Just like with LASIK surgery, certain health conditions can disqualify people from getting PRK surgery. For example, those who have diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis may not be good candidates for the surgery. However, those who have an autoimmune disease are not necessarily disqualified from getting PRK surgery because the procedure does not require an incision.

Those who have herpes in the eye or other eye conditions may also be disqualified from the surgery.
Pregnant women may not be able to receive the surgery, depending on what stage of the pregnancy the woman is in when the surgery is requested. Some pregnant women may be able to have the surgery during the first trimester.

Risks of PRK Surgery

Though PRK surgery does not involve an incision in the cornea, the procedure still carries some risks. Like LASIK surgery, there is a risk of night glare after PRK surgery. Though this generally improves with time, some patients may find that they cannot drive at night because of it.
Other potential side effects include a haze in the vision or a risk of infection brought on by inflammation.

The risks of PRK surgery are very rare, and most patients experience no side effects whatsoever. Most patients are able to return to work within a few days, and medicine is given to control inflammation and reduce discomfort.
Ultimately, the only way for a patient to know if he or she is a good candidate for PRK surgery is to meet with a qualified optometrist and to be evaluated. An eye doctor will give you a complete eye exam, review your medical history and talk to you about your eye health and your concerns. Your doctor will be able to tell you whether you are a good candidate for the surgery and what you can expect from the surgery. If other options are available to correct your vision, your eye doctor will present them to you and explain the pros and cons of each for your particular needs.

It is absolutely essential that you find a qualified optometrist for your evaluation and to perform any corrective surgery that you choose. Look for an eye doctor who is board certified, and check the doctor’s credentials. Make sure the doctor has experience in performing PRK surgery (or whatever other procedure you choose). Search online and check with licensing agencies to look for any complaints or reports of malpractice. Choosing the right doctor will ensure that you get the surgery you need to correct your vision without increasing your risks.

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