The Benefits and Increasing Demand of PRK

Written by on February 2, 2012 in Research & Technology - 1 Comment

The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) reports that eye doctors performed 800,000 refractive surgical procedures in 2010. The AAO also indicates that more than 3.6 million people age 40 and older are visually impaired, or have 20/40 or worse vision in the better eye even with eyeglasses. At his Baltimore LASIK surgery and eye care practice, Jay C. Grochmal, MD, says many of his patients are choosing photorefractive keratectomy (PRK) surgery as an alternative to LASIK to correct their poor vision. He also says the procedure is rapidly growing in popularity as patients are beginning to see the benefits it can offer for those who are not candidates for LASIK.

While LASIK surgery accrues more attention because of its well-known success and prevalence, Dr. Grochmal says PRK is extremely successful and is often the best option for patients who meet certain criteria. Unlike LASIK, where a flap is created to perform the surgery, the surgeon removes the epithelial layer of the cornea and then reshapes it using an excimer laser. Because the procedure does not involve flap creation on the eye, patients with thin corneas can often achieve the most effective results through a PRK procedure. Dr. Grochmal says the procedure can also work for patients seeking enhancement of a previous LASIK procedure.

PRK can also be used for treatment of epithelial distrophy or issues with the epithelium of the cornea. Additional benefits of PKR include the removal of scars on the cornea, strengthening the cornea through cross-linking and reduced formation of scar tissue.

“PRK uses the same laser as LASIK and is adaptable for ‘advanced’ procedures, such as CustomVue, in order to obtain the best visual results,” says Dr. Grochmal. “For those with thin or borderline thickness corneas, as well as higher myopic refractive errors, PRK can be performed with the confidence of assuring the patient’s long-term corneal stability.”

While some patients may only qualify for either LASIK or PRK based on an assessment of their individual eye, Dr. Grochmal says both procedures have proven effective and successful. He also recommends consulting with a highly trained and experienced eye surgeon before undergoing any procedure.

“Every patient is unique and requires individualized care. A surgeon experienced in PRK and LASIK can help guide the patient in the better treatment for him or her with the goal of preserving corneal health,” he says.

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