Refractive surgical procedures such as LASIK and PRK can correct myopia (or nearsightedness) and hyperopia (or farsightedness) as well as astigmatism. In these procedures, lasers are used to reshape the deeper layers cornea so that light focuses clearly at the proper point in the eye. Performed on an outpatient basis, refractive surgical procedures take just a few minutes per eye and typically involve little or no pain.
Even with the latest technology, there is not one procedure that works for every person. That’s why, at the Chattanooga Eye Institute, we currently perform two kinds of refractive surgery—LASIK and P.R.K. After your eye is thoroughly examined and the cornea is mapped, Dr. Kirby will talk with you about which option is best for you.
Both LASIK and PRK are outpatient procedures that only take a few minutes per eye and both are usually pain free. The biggest difference is in the way the deeper layers of the cornea are accessed prior to reshaping by the laser.
With LASIK, a small flap is created in your cornea using either a small blade or a laser. While this is being done, you may feel a little pressure, but you shouldn’t experience any pain. After the laser reshaping process—which usually takes less than a minute—the protective flap of the cornea is folded back into place where it bonds securely without the need for stitches. Most LASIK patients don’t experience pain following the surgery; however, some do report a slight discomfort, which usually disappears within twenty-four hours or less.
With P.R.K., the upper layers of the cornea are removed and discarded, allowing new cells to regenerate in their place. For this reason, P.R.K. patients will have a slightly longer recovery time than LASIK patients—usually a few days to a week. Additionally, they may experience more discomfort, and the quality of their vision will fluctuate for some time; however, the cornea's structural integrity is less altered by P.R.K. leading to better long-term results. For people with thinner corneas or other eye problems, P.R.K. is sometimes the better option.
Regardless of which procedure you will have, the preparation is the same. It begins with a thorough eye exam performed here at the Chattanooga Eye Institute.
Results do vary and, on occasion, additional procedures may be required to fine tune vision, but most P.R.K. and LASIK patients will eventually have vision close to or better than 20/20. Some patients, particularly those over forty, may still need glasses for reading or to achieve maximum levels of correction. The most common side effects of refractive surgeries are dry eyes and halos around lights at night. In general though, you can expect to go about your normal daily activities without the hassle of glasses and contacts.
If you’re ready to reduce or even eliminate your dependence on reading glasses and contact lenses, refractive surgery from the Chattanooga Eye Institute might be just what you’re looking for.