When it comes to determining the ideal PRK patient, physiology plays the most important role. For instance, people with thin or unusually shaped corneas tend to make better candidates for PRK than LASIK. But is there anything else?
Below, we’ve listed three qualities that indicate someone may make a good PRK patient.
1. They participate in high impact activities.
Patients who participate in high risk, high impact activities may benefit from PRK compared to LASIK. This is because people who receive PRK don’t need to contend with LASIK’s corneal flap. For instance, a LASIK patient who participates in martial arts risks having their flap dislodged by an errant punch. PRK patients, meanwhile, don’t need to fret – since they don’t have a flap, there’s no risk of associated complications.
People who work in certain professions (e.g., military, construction, or manufacturing) as well as people who participate in high impact sports (e.g., football, boxing, martial arts) tend to make excellent PRK patients. Make sure you understand each patient’s hobbies and career before deciding on which refractive surgery fits them best. (That being said, some doctors believe that the risk of flap complications may be overblown.)
2. They’re prepared for a long recovery.
People who receive PRK tend to experience a significantly longer recovery process than LASIK patients. For instance, LASIK patients tend to have clear vision the next day, whereas PRK patients need to wait four to five days before they can resume normal activities – including driving. It may take several months for their vision to stabilize. While some people can afford to take a week off from work, others may find it difficult to fit the recovery period into their schedule.
Make sure your prospective PRK patients understand that it can take three to six months before their vision is completely stable, and that they’ll need to spend several days at home recovering after the surgery.
3. They’re compliant.
Your ideal PRK patient should understand that refractive surgery isn’t a magical fix-all – instead, it’s a medical procedure that requires careful care both before and after the surgery date.
Since PRK’s recovery period can be longer than LASIK’s, patients may grow discouraged – and therefore noncompliant. Make sure they understand the importance of keeping their appointments, regularly using prescription eye drops, and avoiding situations that may lead to complications during the healing period, i.e., going swimming or wearing make-up. Keep an open line of communication so that they can discuss any questions or issues as they arise.
Much like with your ideal LASIK and laser-cataract patients, the best way to determine whether someone’s a good fit for PRK is by performing a comprehensive medical and lifestyle examination. What are their hobbies? What do they do for a living? How do they envision life after the surgery? Communication and patient education are both vital.