Because your eyes are numb during the surgery, you will feel no pain during either LASIK or PRK. Mild to moderate discomfort is typical with PRK during the first 24-48 hours after surgery. The discomfort is caused by the absence of the epithelium, and disappears as the new epithelium grows over the area of laser treatment. In LASIK, the epithelium is not removed, so post- operative pain is usually minimal and lasts only about 2-4 hours.
Post-operative medications also vary between procedures. PRK patients may use medicated eye drops for anywhere from 1 week to 3 months after surgery. LASIK patients, on the other hand, are typically finished with their medications within 1 week after surgery.
The final visual results achieved by LASIK and PRK are the same, although it takes longer for the eye to heal completely with PRK. You achieve your final vision in PRK in 1-3 months, whereas with LASIK this typically occurs in 2-4 weeks.
Questions to Ask Your Surgeon about PRK
- What results can I expect?
- How long will the correction last?
- What about risks and complications?
- When can I go back to work?
- Will I need enhancement surgery?
- If I have dry eyes, will it affect my PRK surgery?
- If I’ve had previous eye surgeries, am I still a candidate for PRK?
- Can I wear contact lenses after surgery, if necessary?
- Could the surgery cause problems years from now?
Variations on PRK: LASEK and Epi-LASIK
You may have heard of 2 other laser procedures- LASEK and epi-LASIK. These procedure are very similar to PRK. The only difference is the technical method by which Dr. Kornmehl removes the epithelium, the surface layer of the clear skin that covers the eye. In PRK, the cells are removed by the laser, an automated brush, or gentle debridement. In LASEK, the cells are removed by loosening them with an alcohol solution. In epi-LASIK, an automated machine is used that peels off the cell layer. The results or PRK, LASEK, and epi-LASIK are identical, as are the risks and recovery time. From a patients perspective, LASEK and epi-LASIK are indistinguishable from PRK.