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LASIK vs TransPRK: Which procedure is the best for me? (Updated 2021)

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Imagine a life free of the burdens of glasses and the daily inconvenience of contact lenses. Isn’t that wonderful? If you’ve had enough of glasses or contact lenses, laser vision correction may be your solution to see clearly, naturally. LASIK, the most common form of laser vision correction, is something most of you would be very familiar of. But do you know there are other types of laser vision correction such as TransPRK? If you have never heard about TransPRK and would like to find out the difference between LASIK vs TransPRK, we will be giving you a lowdown on both procedures – right down from how it is performed and their pros & cons.

Ultimately, you will need to go for a suitability check to determine which procedure will be best suited for your eyes. But definitely it would be beneficial to do your own research before your initial visit to the LASIK centre. We hope that this article can give you a more objective view on “LASIK vs TransPRK” and help you find out which procedure is most suitable for you, LASIK or TransPRK.

Firstly, we will begin with how LASIK procedure is done.

The number of LASIK (“Laser-Assisted In Situ Keratomileusis”) procedures performed worldwide has exploded over the past few decades, easily making it one of the most popular laser vision correction procedures. Increased use of digital devices have led to the rapid increase of myopia globally. Coupled with the safety and affordability of LASIK, it comes as no real surprise that tens of millions of people have chosen to have this procedure to give them freedom from their glasses or contact lenses.

LASIK procedure requires the eye surgeon to cut the part of the cornea to create a corneal flap using either a blade or a femtosecond laser (aka bladeless LASIK). Once the flap creation is completed, the cornea flap is lifted, then the excimer laser is applied to reshape the cornea curvature, correcting your vision. The cornea flap is then repositioned back in place, and the LASIK procedure is completed!

With its extensive list of benefits including almost-instantaneous vision recovery, LASIK continues to bring smiles across the globe along with the joy of unhindered, perfect vision. However, despite its massive popularity, the corneal flap created during LASIK continues to be its greatest disadvantage. It can cause problems such as flap-related complications and induced dry eyes among its patients.

Also read: LASIK in Singapore: Ready to say goodbye to myopia for good?

Unlike LASIK, there is no need to cut a corneal flap in TransPRK.

Characterised as a no-cut and no-flap procedure, TransPRK (Transepithelial photorefractive keratectomy) is gradually gaining traction and popularity over its flap counterpart. Like LASIK, TransPRK can free you from your glasses – but with the added advantage of having zero risk of flap-related complications. However, the main drawback of TransPRK would be longer downtime! TransPRK patients would have to wait at least 1 month

The TransPRK procedure requires only a single laser: the excimer laser. It performs a dual role of ablating the top-most epithelium cells as well as correcting the vision. Oh, and did we mention that all this is done in a single seamless step? After the laser reshapes the cornea, a pair of transparent contact lenses will be inserted to protect the treated surface. This contact lens will be removed after 4 – 5 days, when your epithelium cells have healed.

Also read: A personal anecdote of my TransPRK experience – the good and the bad

LASIK or TransPRK? How do I decide which one to go for?

Both LASIK and TransPRK are life-changing procedures that can help you to ditch your glasses and contact lens for good. But which one should you go for? To guide you along the decision-making process, you can ask yourself these few questions:

Also read: Lasik prices in Singapore – get the full scoop of your Lasik bill before you go for it.

1. What’s your current lifestyle like?

This is the first thing to consider. What do you look forward to do the most with your new-found perfect vision? Is it to engage in active contact sports, such as basketball, rugby, martial arts or soccer – something that is dangerous for you to do if you were to wear glasses? If you had said ‘Yes’, then most probably you would want to steer clear from LASIK.

This is because in LASIK results in a cut corneal flap, which can potentially shift out of place or dislodge if you receive a hit on the eye during your game. Which is why opting for TransPRK may be the better choice for you – as you will not have to worry at all about flap complications.

2. How high is your eye degree?

The maximum amount of eye degree that you can correct via laser vision correction depends on how thick your cornea is. The absence of cut flap in TransPRK helps to conserve precious cornea tissue. This is the reason why generally TransPRK able to correct higher eye prescription power as compared to LASIK.

If your cornea is too thin or your degree is high, LASIK may not be suitable for you. But the good news is, there are a minority of people who are found to be suitable for TransPRK even though they have been rejected for LASIK before. In other words, if you are highly myopic, LASIK may be out of the equation for you. In this case, TransPRK may be your best chance at getting crystal-clear vision (other than Implantable Contact Lenses).

Also read: Should I implant my contact lens into my eye? What Implantable Collamer Lenses (ICL) really means

3. Are you currently suffering from dry eyes?

During LASIK flap creation, your cornea endings would be cut, potentially resulting in dry eyes. Whereas, the concern of permanent dry eyes is minimized by opting for TransPRK. If you are already suffering from this condition, you definitely wouldn’t want to exacerbate your symptoms any further, don’t you? TransPRK is the clear winner over LASIK in this scenario!

4. How many days of rest can you afford to get after the surgery?

TransPRK requires you to be away from work for 4 – 5 days, which would be covered by Medical Certificate (MC). During this period, your eyes can get pretty uncomfortable and you may even experience some tearing. Vision recovery post-TransPRK would take around a week, and additional few weeks would be required for the vision to stabilise. Therefore, if  you are unable to take the 5 days of MC, you can consider going for LASIK instead. With LASIK, you can expect minimal amount of discomfort, allowing you to return to work within 1 – 3 days.

Can I rub my eyes after LASIK or TransPRK procedures?

The first week after undergoing either procedures is very critical – rubbing your eyes is a big no-no regardless of the type of procedure you go for. If your eyes feel itchy, you can use a clean tissue and very gently pat the side of the eyes.

For LASIK, if you were to rub your eyes during the first few days, it may cause your newly formed cornea flap to dislodge. If it happens, you would need to make another visit to the clinic where the doctor would have to “reposition” the flap. Ouch!

You also can’t go around rubbing your eyes freely after the TransPRK procedure – but for a different reason altogether. During the first week, your epithelium cells would be healing. Just in the case of external skin wounds, you should not disturb the healing of your epithelium cells by rubbing.

A word of caution for LASIK patients: even many years after the procedure, you should not rub your eyes vigorously as there is a minute chance that your cornea flap would dislodge or shift out of position. It would be safer to do so if you were to opt for flapless, surface-based procedures like TransPRK.

Now that you have done your research, what is the next step that you should take?

If you are interested into this life-transforming journey towards unhindered, perfect vision, then firstly, you should schedule an eye evaluation appointment to check for your suitability.

Also read: 12 best eye clinics to do LASIK in Singapore

The evaluation will determine if you are a suitable candidate for either LASIK and/or TransPRK surgery. Your eye condition (eye prescription, cornea thickness, cornea curvature, eye pressure, general eye health, etc) will be taken into consideration. The eye evaluation appointment should also include a consultation session with your eye surgeon. He/she is best person to determine if you are a suitable candidate for the surgery.

Based on your eye condition, your eye doctor may recommend you to undergo a specific procedure over another. However, you are always welcome to discuss your concerns with him/her. Feel free to suggest if you have any preferred procedure in mind, be it LASIK, TransPRK, or other forms of vision correction. And we hope that this article was a good starting point for that. 🙂

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