RubmdMedicalWhat Are the Differences Between PRK and ICL Laser Eye Surgery?

What Are the Differences Between PRK and ICL Laser Eye Surgery?

A laser eye surgery can improve your vision and eliminate the need for glasses or contacts. Understanding the different laser-based eye procedures can help you make an informed decision for your vision. Two laser surgery options are the PRK and ICL procedures. Here are some of the main differences between PRK and ICL laser eye procedures: 

Understanding PRK Surgery

PRK, or photorefractive keratectomy, is a type of laser eye surgery that uses an excimer laser to reshape the cornea. This procedure is recommended for patients with mild-to-moderate nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. The PRK procedure involves removing the cornea’s outer layer using the laser to reshape the underlying corneal tissue. The epithelium naturally heals over the reshaped area, allowing for improved vision.

Understanding ICL Surgery

ICL surgery, or implantable collamer lens surgery, is a refractive procedure that involves the insertion of an artificial lens into the eye to correct vision issues. Unlike PRK, ICL does not involve reshaping the cornea. Instead, it adds a specialized layer to the eye to improve vision. This makes ICL suitable for individuals with thinner corneas that are unsuitable for other refractive surgeries. ICL is reversible, making it a good choice for individuals needing future vision adjustments.

PRK Procedure

A preoperative consultation appointment precedes PRK. During this appointment, your vision specialist performs a detailed evaluation of your eyes and vision. This includes taking measurements of your refractive error and pupil and mapping your corneal shape. These measurements help the eye surgeon customize the laser settings for your procedure. Preparation for PRK may involve discontinuing certain medications and temporarily switching from contact lenses to glasses. 

On the day of the procedure, your surgeon will administer local anesthesia or numbing eye drops. Once your eyes are prepared for the procedure, the surgeon removes the corneal surface cells and uses a laser to reshape the cornea. PRK doesn’t involve blades or cutting tools, making it a safer procedure than other vision-correction surgeries. A clear contact lens is then placed over each eye post-surgery, acting as a protective bandage during healing. Once the eyes heal completely, you should experience long-term improvement in vision issues like myopia, hyperopia, and astigmatism.

ICL Procedure

The ICL procedure comes in two types: soft and Intraocular. The soft lens procedure involves a lens made from a flexible polymeric material. This lens closely mirrors the collagen in your cornea, reducing the risk of adverse reactions. During this surgery, the surgeon creates a small incision in your cornea and places the ICL between your iris and lens to enhance your eyes’ ability to focus. No stitches are needed for this procedure because the incision is small enough for the tissue to heal on its own. ICL procedures are tailored to the needs of patients with severe nearsightedness who may not be eligible for other eye surgeries.

Ideal Candidates for PRK

PRK surgery best suits individuals with sufficient corneal thickness and no underlying eye conditions. Individuals with highly active occupations or hobbies, such as athletes or military personnel, may be good candidates for PRK surgery because of its lower risk for healing complications. Certain age restrictions may apply, as adult patients with fully-formed eyes are the ideal candidates. Elderly patients may not be ideal candidates for this surgery. Individuals without autoimmune disorders or other conditions that impact the eyes’ healing process are suitable candidates for PRK. Consult an ophthalmologist to determine if PRK is the right option for you.

Ideal Candidates for ICL Surgery

ICL surgery is ideal for individuals with thin corneas and moderate-to-severe myopia, hyperopia, or astigmatism and has thin corneas. It is also suitable for individuals with dry eye syndrome and irregular corneas. Individuals with high refractive error are ideal candidates for this surgery as the procedure directly addresses the condition. The ideal candidate for ICL surgery should have stable vision and eye health. Schedule regular vision checkups with your eye doctor to determine whether you are a good candidate for this procedure.

Risks and Complications

Both PRK and ICL surgeries carry risks that patients should be aware of before undergoing the procedures. These risks include:

  • Infection: There is a small risk of infection following any surgical procedure, including PRK and ICL surgeries. Patients will be prescribed antibiotics to reduce this risk, and it’s important to follow post-operative care instructions diligently to minimize the chance of infection.
  • Dry Eye Syndrome: Dry eye syndrome is a common side effect of laser eye surgeries like PRK and ICL. It occurs when the eye does not produce enough tears to keep the surface moist. Patients may experience symptoms such as itching, burning, or a gritty sensation in the eyes. Lubricating eye drops can help alleviate these symptoms during the healing process.
  • Glare/Halos: Some patients may experience glare or halos around lights, especially at night, following PRK or ICL surgery. This side effect is typically temporary and resolves as the eyes heal. However, it’s essential to discuss any persistent or bothersome symptoms with your eye surgeon.

Cost Considerations

Patients should consider the following cost factors when deciding between PRK and ICL procedures:

  • Surgeon Fees: The cost of the surgeon’s services can vary based on their experience, reputation, and location. Patients should inquire about the surgeon’s fees during the consultation process.
  • Facility Fees: The fees associated with the surgical facility where the procedure will be performed should also be considered. These fees may include operating room costs, equipment fees, and staff fees.
  • Insurance Coverage: Some insurance plans may cover part or all of the cost of laser eye surgery, depending on the individual’s policy and the reason for the procedure. Patients should check with their insurance provider to determine coverage eligibility and any out-of-pocket expenses.

Schedule a Consultation for Laser Eye Surgery

Laser eye surgery offers an effective and safe way to improve various vision issues. Two types of laser eye surgeries your eye doctor may recommend are PRK and ICL procedures. Consult with your ophthalmologist to determine which procedure is suited for your vision needs and goals. Contact an eye surgeon today to schedule an ICL or PRK consultation appointment.

Team RubMD
Team RubMD
RubMD Team is committed to providing reliable and trustworthy information on healthcare-related topics to our readers. We strive to maintain the highest standards of accuracy, professionalism, and ethical conduct in all our content.

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