LASIK vs. PRK: Is corrective eye surgery right for you?
Imagine waking up with clear vision — no need to reach for your glasses or stumble to the bathroom for your contact lenses.
If you’re ready to explore the possibility of life without corrective lenses, you may be considering LASIK surgery. Corrective eye surgery has great outcomes. In fact, over 99% of Dr. Nathalie Guibord's patients are happy with their results. And most people walk away from the surgery with 20/20 vision.
But LASIK isn’t for everyone — and it isn’t your only option. Dr. Guibord, an ophthalmologist at Geisinger, has been performing corrective eye surgery for over 20 years and helps us break down the two most common procedures: LASIK and PRK.
LASIK vs. PRK surgery
LASIK, also known as laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis, involves the creation of a thin flap on the surface of your eye using a laser. Then another laser is used to remove tissue and reshape your cornea.
PRK (photorefractive keratectomy) involves removal of a thin layer of your cornea without creation of a flap. The laser is then used to reshape the remaining cornea tissue. The layer of the cornea that was removed will grow back a few days after surgery.
“These procedures help light focus better on the retina in the back of the eye, helping you to see better,” says Dr. Guibord.
Both LASIK and PRK can correct vision problems that affect our eyesight, including:
How much does corrective eye surgery cost?
Corrective eye surgery varies in price — typically ranging from $499 to $2,999 per eye. So, what should you be spending? Dr. Guibord notes it’s important to remember the adage “you get what you pay for” and to look for the very best care when it comes to your eyes.
“For quality vision correction surgery, you’ll pay about $2,000 per eye,” advises Dr. Guibord. “This cost means your surgeon will use the latest technology. This is often the same technology being used on members of the United States armed forces — so you know it’s the best out there.”
The latest corrective eye surgery technology is bladeless — using only lasers — and is customized to each eye of every patient. LASIK surgery today has fewer side effects. With custom bladeless LASIK, most patients either have the same quality vision at night, once well healed, or overall improved nighttime vision after their surgery. Today’s bladeless LASIK technology is so advanced, it even holds up to the extreme G-forces fighter pilots face.
Which corrective eye surgery is right for you?
An in-depth evaluation is the first step to learn if you’re a candidate for LASIK or PRK. “You can expect to be with us for about two hours during your evaluation,” explains Dr. Guibord.
Before one of these evaluations, you’ll need to wear your glasses for up to two to three weeks. This is because contacts change the shape of your eyes as you wear them, which will interfere with the tests and measurements used to see if you’re a candidate for surgery.
“You can expect to be dilated during your evaluation, so be sure to bring a driver with you,” says Dr, Guibord, “And let your ride know you’ll be there for around two hours. They may want to bring a book or laptop with them while they wait for you.”
The benefit to a long exam like this? You’ll know the same day if you’re approved for surgery. Depending on the availability of your surgeon, your surgery will be scheduled within the next month or two.
Pros and cons of LASIK and PRK
“Our goal is to perform LASIK surgery whenever possible,” says Dr. Guibord. “The surgery is more accurate, more reliable, heals faster and will leave you with minimal discomfort.”
LASIK surgery is customized to you and your unique vision needs, and the end result is better quality vision. However, if your cornea is too thin for LASIK, PRK is another option.
Although PRK is a more challenging procedure and comes with a longer healing time, it does have advantages over LASIK.
“I’d recommend PRK for anyone at risk of trauma to the face, like a boxer or prison guard,” says Dr. Guibord. This is because there isn’t a risk of damage to the flap that’s created in LASIK. However, the chances of this happening are slim and only occur as a result of trauma.
At the end of the day, Dr. Guibord says LASIK isn’t for everyone — it’s up to personal preference. “If you like your glasses or contacts, then those are for you,” she says. “But if you’re tired of wearing corrective lenses, we can talk about surgery.”
In the 20 years Dr. Guibord has been performing corrective eye surgeries, she’s never had a complication. “I want people to see like I do, and I want them to know that we use the best technology on the market. Because using high-quality LASIK equipment means better quality and results.”
Looking for the right eye care provider? Learn more about eye care.
Interested in seeing if you qualify for LASIK? Make an appointment with:
Nathalie Guibord, MD
Kendall R.B. Dobbins, MD
Tarika Thareja, MD