LASIK is a surgical procedure where the cornea of the eye is shaped by a laser beam to improve your vision. The difference between PRK and LASIK is the method of getting to the cornea. There is a transparent membrane between the atmosphere and the cornea that has to be removed in order to get to the cornea. I think it’s called Bowman’s layer. In PRK it is shaved or “sanded” off. In LASIK, a microknife (microkeratome) on a plane is used to cut about a 320 circle that has a 40 flap attaching the circle to the rest of the eye. The circle is folded back, the laser is used to reshape the cornea, the area is cleaned, and the flap is put back where it glues itself naturally to the eye again.
Prior to surgery, the surgeon uses special instruments to map the contour of your eye. My map showed ups and downs that caused astigmatism as well as myopia. (S)he then does some calculations to determine where and how much to shave off.
One major but statistically minimal risk is that one can lose their eyesight permanently. Nothing is guaranteed. You can also get infections that can ruin your eyes. This is one major reason why they are so concerned about seeing you as soon as possible after the surgery.
One thing to consider is that the focal point is generally being moved to the retina, whereas before it was before or after the retina. This can affect your ability to read close up, especially if you are older. This is a good reason not to overcorrect for near-sightedness. Also, they can fix far-sightedness now. Ballpark cost is around $2,000 – $2,500 per eye.
One thing you should concern yourself with is the laser used to perform the surgery. There are FDA approved lasers, but there are surgeons in the US that are using non-approved lasers. Some of these lasers are “throw aways” from Europe and elsewhere. Surgeons there are upgrading their lasers with new ones that are more accurate and less risky. The laser used to perform my surgery was the VISX laser, the best FDA approved laser at the time. There could be better lasers by now that are approved but I have not kept up with the field. There are surgeons in Canada and Colombia and possibly elsewhere that are using the latest and greatest lasers.
Surprisingly, the most advances in PRK and LASIK have been made by a small group of doctors in Colombia. They invented the procedures and the tools, such as the microkeratome. They are at the cutting edge of technology in LASIK, no pun intended. This does not mean that you will get the best surgery, because as we all know, it’s best to let someone else be the guinea pig. You may be able to get really good and less expensive surgery in Canada just across the border. Just beware that the post surgery treatment is as important as the procedure itself.
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