The PRK Procedure
PRK or Photo-Refractive Keratectomy treats refractive errors by removing tissue from the surface of the cornea. First, the epithelium, a thin layer of protective skin on the front of the cornea will be removed. Next the Excimer Laser, usually in less than a minute, will remove the proper amount of tissue, thus reshaping the surface of the cornea. A bandage contact lens is then placed on the eye for 2 to 3 days until the epithelium heals.
Patients often experience discomfort and a watery eye for the first 24-72 hours after their procedure. Vision may take up to three months to stabilize.
Possible risks and complications include infection (very rare and usually treated with eye drops), over or under correction, glare, or post-operative haze.
A computer, programmed by the doctor for each person's own correction factors, controls the laser and the reshaping of the cornea. The procedure is performed while the patient lies on her/his back. In treating myopia, the laser segment of the procedure starts with a narrow diameter beam. As the laser beam expands or moves, a tiny lens-shaped disc is created. The focal point of the beam only penetrates the cornea about two-thousandths of an inch (about half the thickness of a human hair). Only a small area in the center of the cornea is treated, essentially producing a concave lens over the visual axis. Finally, the corneal flap is replaced without stitches and the LASIK procedure is complete.
With hyperopia, the shape of the cornea is essentially steepened to allow images to correctly focus on the retina. For astigmatism, the laser beam scans back and forth along the cylindrical axis to reshape the eye.
After LASIK, the majority of people are able to pass a drivers license test without glasses or contacts. Many patients report an immediate improvement within the first day. For others, vision may be blurry during the healing period. Since an individual's situation, healing powers and tissues are unique, not everyone should expect to achieve full visual correction.
People with high to severe levels of myopia or astigmatism may require another procedure to achieve the desired results. People with extremely strong glasses for example, may end up with significant correction, but still need mild to moderate strength lenses part of the time for some activities.
LASIK is performed on an outpatient basis using an "eye drop" anesthetic to numb the eye for painless surgery. LASIK normally takes less than 30 minutes and the patient leaves shortly after the procedure. An eye patch may be placed on the eye for temporary protection and to keep you from rubbing your eye in your sleep. Medication drops are used for pain relief, to prevent infection and promote healing. After LASIK, patients usually return to their normal lifestyle quickly with very few restrictions during the short healing period.
Is LASIK for Everyone?
To be eligible for LASIK the eye must be in good health and vision must be stable. However, some people are better candidates than others and consultation with the doctor prior to surgery is important to determine estimated benefits and possible complications.
Reading Glasses After Age 40
As the body matures, about the age of 40, the normally soft, flexible, focusing lens becomes hard and has difficulty focusing on close objects. Reading vision becomes blurred and difficult. Called presbyopia, bifocals and reading glasses, which aid the eye in focusing on close objects, are used to treat this condition. Since the laser has no effect on the lens of the eye and cannot improve vision due to presbyopia, people who have had LASIK and have or develop presbyopia will need reading glasses for small print.
However, a procedure called MONOVISION may be used for people with presbyopia that corrects one eye for distance and leaves the other eye corrected for reading.
Your complimentary consultation is the first, and often most important step on the path that leads you to seeing a clear new world. At Fromer Eye Centers, our commitment is to provide personal care for each patient starting with the very first visit to educate and answer your questions.
Not everyone is a good candidate for laser vision correction. We will help you decide if it is right for you, based upon our examination and a discussion of your expectations. If we cannot safely meet your expectations, we will let you know why a laser procedure is not in your best interest.