How Does Aftercare Differ Between LASIK and PRK/LASEK?

Many people who are interested in how Laser Eye Surgery can improve their vision often don’t realise at first that there are a number of different procedures available. Two of the most common Laser Eye Surgery procedures are LASIK and PRK/LASEK.

While both of these procedures utilise the same method for vision correction, their approach is slightly different. The differences between these two treatments don’t have an impact on the results achieved, however, they do influence healing times and aftercare.

So, let’s take a closer look at LASIK and PRK/LASEK to get a better understanding of these differences.

PRK/LASEK – The Surface Procedures

Surface ablation is the oldest method of Laser Eye Surgery, It was introduced in the late 1980s and while it is still in use today, newer methods are much more common.

PRK – which stands for Photorefractive Keratectomy – and LASEK (Laser Assisted Sub-Epithelial Keratectomy) are both types of surface ablation Laser Eye Surgery. This means that access to the corneal bed is gained by removing a portion of the epithelium (surface skin). This allows the surgeon to reshape the cornea beneath and correct visual errors.

In PRK, a contact lens is placed over the treated area to protect the eye until the epithelium grows back. In LASEK, the portion of epithelium that was removed is replaced so the eye only needs to heal around the tissue.

PRK/LASEK are still extremely effective at correcting refractive errors. However, the longer healing times associated with these procedures mean that newer alternatives are usually preferred. Today, surface ablation procedures account for around 10% of Laser Eye Surgery procedures – and less than 1% of those performed at London Vision Clinic.

PRK/LASEK Recovery

Surface ablation procedures are more disruptive to the eye and require more time to heal. While the eventual results will be the same, patients who have PRK/LASEK are likely to experience blurriness for a longer period following their treatment.

It is common to experience an initial improvement in vision followed by a slight deterioration and then continuous improvement as the eye heals. This process can take between 7 and 14 days; however, it is not uncommon for it to take a little longer.

LASIK – The Most Popular Procedure

Laser-Assisted In Situ Keratomileusis (LASIK) is the most commonly performed Laser Eye Surgery procedure. Unlike surface procedures, LASIK does not require the complete removal of the epithelium. Instead, a small “flap” is created on the surface of the eye, giving the surgeon and the laser access to the cornea.

Once the procedure is complete, this flap is closed and the healing process begins immediately.

LASIK Recovery

Following LASIK surgery, only the edges of the corneal flap need to heal. In many cases, this healing process can take just 3 hours, leaving the patient with significantly improved vision. However, swelling in the eye can still be associated with some side effects in the days and weeks following treatment.

The Difference in Your Aftercare

Healing times are the most significant difference between PRK/LASEK and LASIK. However, there may also be differences in the aftercare and precautions you will need to take during your recovery.

In the video below, Mr Glenn Carp explains more about the difference between aftercare for LASIK and PRK/LASEK.

Youtube video link

After your procedure, your surgeon will walk you through your aftercare regime for your recovery. This will include instructions for taking medications and administering eye drops in the days and weeks after your procedure, as well as advice on activities you should avoid – such as sports.

For example, due to the recovery times associated with PRK/LASEK, it is likely you will be advised to avoid contact sports and activities such as swimming for a longer period.

And don’t worry if you forget or have any more questions for your surgeon – you will be provided with their personal phone number so that you can have peace of mind throughout your recovery.

If you would like to learn more about the different Laser Eye Surgery procedures available at London Vision Clinic, get in touch with one of our friendly clinic coordinators. Alternatively, find out if Laser Eye Surgery is suitable for you by Booking a Consultation today.