Whether having LASIK (Laser-Assisted In Situ Keratomileusis) or PRK (Photorefractive Keratectomy), both eye surgery procedures require the use of an excimer laser. The excimer laser was first developed in the 1970s by IBM to etch computer chips. In the early 1980s, a resourceful ophthalmologist, Dr. Stephen Trokel, inspired that technology to treat human eyes. He recognized the laser's ability to remove microscopic amounts of tissue and, unlike other lasers used in medicine, the excimer laser was a cold laser, rather than a thermal laser. This discovery of using a cold laser to reshape the surface of the eye allowed for correction without cauterizing and causing damage to the surrounding tissue of the cornea.
The first approval from the FDA came in October 1995. This approval allowed surgeons to use the excimer laser to treat mild to moderate nearsightedness, or myopia, with the technique of PRK, or Photorefractive Keratectomy. LASIK soon followed with the use of a thin corneal flap. In years following, the laser was approved for the extensive corrections we have today.
Dr. Grutzmacher performed the first PRK in Sacramento in early December of 1995. The patient's uncorrected vision was improved to 20/20. Her pre-laser uncorrected vision was 20/200, and she is no longer routinely wearing glasses. Since that time, the doctors have completed well over 20,000 PRK and LASIK eye surgery procedures at their Sacramento practice.
Photorefractive Keratectomy and LASIK are vision correction procedures for the treatment of nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. Both use an excimer laser to reshape the cornea; In PRK, tissue is removed from the corneal surface rather than from under a corneal flap, like in LASIK.
What are the steps to LASER Vision correction?
Not every individual is a candidate for the LASIK or PRK eye surgery. Each individual person has extremely unique eyes. No two cornea maps are the same just like with a Fingerprint or DNA sample. Before determining your candidacy, a pre-operative evaluation will be required. You can set this up directly with one of our Laser Vision Counselors. The pre-operative exam is absolutely necessary and will be the ultimate determining factor for your candidacy.
This thorough diagnostic evaluation is the first clinical step in creating a positive outcome for your best possible visual outcome or personal best vision. After a series of eye health tests and corneal measurements, the doctor will have a good idea as to whether or not you are a LASIK or PRK candidate. Please consult our Laser Vision Counselors to determine how long you will need to be out of contact lenses prior to this visit.
Once it has been determined that you are a candidate you will be ready to schedule surgery. Make sure to schedule surgery on a day where you can have plenty of rest and downtime the following day. You will need to arrange for a ride home from the procedure. You will be given detailed postoperative instructions before and after surgery. You will be using medicated eye drops following your procedure for approximately one week and artificial tear drops for approximately 2 months following the procedure.
Your decision to have laser vision correction is a serious decision. Ultimately, you will be the one to make the final decision. When selecting an eye surgeon, it is important to select one who can honestly explain your visual needs. In 98% of LASIK cases the visual outcome is 20/40 or better, however, this is a surgical procedure and there is a potential risk. This is why selecting a surgeon with a vast amount of experience is important. The ultimate goal of LASIK and PRK is to reduce your dependence on glasses and contact lenses. LASIK and PRK do not always create perfect 20/20 vision, though most cases are successful in improving vision. Ask the right questions. Make sure your surgeon has the right answers, the best technology, and the experience under his or her belt to ensure a safe and effective procedure. It is possible that this is one of the most important decisions that you will ever make. These are your eyes and your life.