Uncovering The Aesthetics Of PRK & LASIK Eye Surgery
The Cosmetic Factor in PRK & LASIK Eye Surgery Procedures
When someone mentions cosmetic surgery, you could be forgiven for not immediately thinking about PRK (Photorefractive Keratectomy) & LASIK eye surgery. After all, they are both laser surgery procedures on your eyes, to correct problems such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism.
But if you’re inclined to look a little further down the road, having PRK & LASIK surgery could be considered major cosmetic procedures. After you have had either of these laser eye surgeries, you should no longer need to wear glasses or worry about drooping eyelids from extended use of contact lenses.
For someone who wears glasses everyday, having LASIK & PRK eye surgery can result in huge, and long lasting positive effects on their life, all through the aesthetical change to their overall image that can occur when they leave their glasses behind.
To write this article The Cosmetic Tourist got together with Ophthalmologist, Dr. Yuna Rapoport, MD. From her Manhattan practice, Dr. Rapoport performs refractive, cornea, and cataract surgical procedures, as well as teaching residents in at Mt. Sinai New York Eye and Ear Infirmary.
Laser Vision Correction Surgery; Both Practical And Aesthetic
Dr. Rapoport explains that both LASIK and PRK are laser eye surgery procedures that reshape the surface of your eye to correct your vision. Listing the reasons behind having these eye procedures in greater detail;
“For you to see clearly, light rays must travel through your cornea and lens. The cornea and lens refract the light so it lands on the retina. The retina turns light into signals that travel to your brain and become images.
With refractive errors, the shape of your cornea or lens keeps light from bending properly. When light is not focused on the retina as it should be, your vision is blurry.”
With both LASIK and PRK eye procedures, a laser is used to change the shape of your cornea, which improves the way light rays are focused on the retina. Once this has been achieved, you are able to fully enjoy the aesthetical changes brought about by eye lens surgery.
PRK Vs LASIK, Which Procedure Is Right For Me?
So what exactly is the difference when comparing or trying to choose PRK vs LASIK eye surgery? Dr. Rapoport says that for those who have high prescriptions to correct their eyes, or those with thinner corneas, or other eye abnormalities;
“...may not be candidates for LASIK but are candidates for PRK.”
For anyone who is wondering which procedure they would qualify, don’t worry, as Dr. Rapoport points out that every potential patient will have to partake in;
“...a thorough evaluation and multiple tests [that] are required to assess whether you qualify for either.”
The doctor goes on to explain that some patients may choose PRK versus LASIK for other reasons, such as occupational or contact lens intolerance.
Fundamental Requirements Needed For PRK & LASIK Eye Surgery Procedures
Before you can truly get excited about the potential aesthetical results of having either of these laser eye surgery procedures, you need to meet certain requirements. Dr. Rapoport lists the most important ones as:
You should be 18 years or older (ideally, over 21 years old, when vision is more likely to have stopped changing).
Your eye prescription should not have changed in the last year.
Your refractive error (prescription) must be one that can be treated with LASIK/PRK.
Your corneas need to be healthy and your overall eye health must be good.
Of course there is always the flip side to meeting these requirements, with a rather hefty list of major reasons why someone would not be a good candidate for either of these eye lens surgery procedures;
Unstable (changing) refractive error
Extreme levels of myopia, hyperopia or astigmatism
Skin or other disease that can affect healing
A history of excessive scarring
Severe dry eye
Corneas that are too thin
Cornea abrasions or disease
A cataract affecting vision
Pregnant or nursing women
Keratoconus (cone-shaped cornea)
Family history of a corneal transplant/corneal disease
There are of course many other considerations that come with getting laser eye surgery, such as ceasing all contact lense use some weeks before your procedure is scheduled (Like any cosmetic or elective surgical procedure, your PRK/LASIK eye center should supply you with thorough instructions upon scheduling).
Dr. Rapoport’s Lowdown On Each Eye Surgery Procedure
So having made it through the prerequisites, and committing to having laser eye surgery, what comes next? Where are the procedures performed, and what you can expect whilst the procedure is being performed;
“Both LASIK and PRK are performed at a laser center or in an office ... No systemic anesthesia is required [for either procedure].”
Dr. Rapoport expands in some detail about the LASIK procedure;
“During LASIK surgery, your eye is first numbed with eye drops. An eyelid holder is placed on your eye to keep you from blinking. A suction ring is then applied to the eye to raise the eye pressure and keep it from moving. The IntraLase laser is then used to create a paper-thin corneal flap. The flap is then opened like the page of a book to expose tissue just below the corneal surface.
Next, the excimer laser is used to remove ultra-thin layers from the cornea to reshape it. The laser will have been pre-programmed with specific measurements for your eye. Finally, the flap is placed back into its original position and the edges are smoothed down. The flap attaches on its own in two to three minutes, where it will heal in place.
A see-through shield is placed over the eye, which you sleep with for a few days. The day of the procedure, you should plan to go home and take a nap or relax after the surgery. Your eyes may feel scratchy or like they are burning for a couple of days. Recovery after LASIK surgery typically requires a few days.”
Moving on, Dr. Rapoport describes the slightly differing PRK procedure as;
“PRK surgery is similar to LASIK but does not require the creation of a corneal flap. Instead, the epithelium (the top layer) is first removed. The laser, which has been preprogrammed with information from your specific measurements, then reshapes the cornea by gently removing the epithelial tissue on the exposed cornea. A drop called mitomycin C is placed onto the cornea for a brief time to prevent postoperative haze (cloudiness).
A bandage contact lens is then placed over the eye and is removed in the office at three to seven days once the top layer has healed. PRK has a longer recovery period than LASIK, of up to 30 days.”
The Aesthetic Results Of LASIK Vs PRK Eye Surgery
With both procedures leading to the same final postoperative visual outcome, you can expect the same aesthetical results from whichever laser eye surgery you are recommended to have.
Dr. Rapoport says the biggest change is that after eye surgery you are able to see fully, and all of the time;
“Imagine being able to wake up in the middle of the night, or in the morning and be able to see. No more fumbling for glasses, no more spilling contact solution from the contact case, and no more being uncomfortable at the beach or pool with glasses.”
With massive lifestyle changes such as these, it comes as no surprise that 92-98% of patients who undergo LASIK and PRK eye surgery are completely satisfied with the results.
Positive feedback from Dr. Rapoport’s own patients include not having to wear or decide which glasses frames to purchase, and the ability to to fall asleep without having to worry about removing contact lenses or breaking their glasses.
The doctor also mentions additional aesthetical effects from surgery that include whiter, clearer eyes due to the lack of irritation, and eye allergies (mainly encountered with contact lense users). Another point, that all glasses wearers will recognise as a big deal, is the added benefit of not having to push glasses back up your nose.
Final Words Of Advice From A Top Rated Ophthalmologist
When wrapping up our interview with Dr. Rapoport, we asked her if there were any tips she could pass on for anyone interested in laser eye surgery, particularly with concerns about the safety of the procedures.
She was keen to point out that LASIK and PRK eye surgeries have been researched thoroughly in South America and Europe since the 1980’s, whilst in the US, the procedures were FDA approved by 1995.
“The technology has improved tremendously and this completely laser procedure can correct custom irregularities and higher order aberrations, resulting in a vision that is of a better quality than either with glasses or contacts.”
Dr. Rapoport stressed the importance of thoroughly researching your choice of doctor;
“It is crucial to choose an ophthalmologist who performs customized imaging and testing to ensure you have the safest and most precise treatment, like we do at Eastside Eye Surgeons”.
Additionally, she says, a very in-depth discussion should be held regarding possible treatments, including distance correction, near correction and monovision;
“Monovision is a great option for patients who want to have their vision corrected for both distance and for near vision without any glasses at all, not even reading glasses!”
In monovision your dominant eye is corrected for distance and your non dominant eye corrected for near sight.
Whilst this procedure may sound like it could cause overall vision problems, Dr. Rapoport says that;
“Your brain learns to adjust and to use the two eyes together”. However, in some patients, it is better to try out monovision as a trial with contact lenses first.
A Little About Ophthalmologist Yuna Rapoport, MD
Yuna Rapoport received her MD from the honors program at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, completed ophthalmology residency at Vanderbilt University, and completed an extra year of fellowship at Harvard Medical School. She performs refractive, cornea, and cataract surgery.
Her work regarding advances in eye care treatments has been published in many leading medical journals and presented at major ophthalmologic meetings. She is on staff and teaches trainees at New York Eye and Ear Infirmary and Mt. Sinai St. Luke’s Roosevelt.
When we asked the doctor for any final thoughts for our article, she reiterated one of the main thoughts that we wanted to explore when we first contacted her and asked for a collaboration on laser eye surgery;
“When performed in appropriate patients, LASIK and PRK can have a huge effect on individuals self image past, present and future.”
The Cosmetic Tourist would like to thank Dr. Yuna Rapoport for her time and expert opinion in writing this article. She is currently accepting new patients at: Eastside Eye Surgeons / 178 East 71st Street /New York, NY 10021 / (212) 650-0400
Please visit her website for more in-depth information: www.eastsideeyesurgeons.com
OR keep up to date with all things eye related via their blog