Baltimore Eye Surgeon Discusses Revival in Popularity of PRK Surgery

According to a recent study by the American Academy of Ophthalmology, 800,000 refractive surgical procedures were performed in 2010. A similar study reports that among people age 40 and older, more than 3.6 million are visually impaired (defined as 20/40 or worse vision in the better eye even with eyeglasses). Dr. Jay C. Grochmal, a vision correction and LASIK surgeon in Baltimore, says that one of the contributing factors to such a high number of refractive surgical procedures is the resurgence in popularity of photorefractive keratectomy, or PRK. Dr. Grochmal discusses the benefits of a PRK procedure and reasons for its increasing demand.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) shows in its latest report that eye doctors performed 800,000 refractive surgical procedures in 2010. The AAO also indicates that more than 3.6 million people age 40 and older are visually impaired, or have 20/40 or worse vision in the better eye even with eyeglasses. At his Baltimore LASIK surgery and eye care practice, Dr. Jay C. Grochmal says many of his patients are choosing PRK surgery as an alternative to LASIK to correct their poor vision. He also says the procedure is rapidly growing in popularity again as patients are beginning to see the benefits it can offer for those who are not candidates for LASIK.

While LASIK surgery accrues more popular attention because of its well-known success and prevalence, Dr. Grochmal says PRK is extremely successful and can oftentimes be the best option for patients who meet certain criteria. Unlike LASIK, where a flap is created to perform the surgery, the surgeon removes the epithelial layer of the cornea and then reshapes the cornea using an excimer laser. Because the procedure does not involve flap creation on the eye, he says patients with thin corneas can often achieve the most effective results through a PRK procedure. Dr. Grochmal says the procedure can also work effectively for patients seeking enhancement of a previous LASIK procedure.

Dr. Grochmal says PRK can also be used for treatment of epithelial distrophy, or issues with the epithelium of the cornea. He adds that PRK’s other benefits include removal of scars on the cornea, strengthening the cornea through cross-linking, and reduced formation of scar tissue. “PRK uses the same laser as LASIK and is adaptable for ‘advanced’ procedures, such as CustomVue, in order to obtain the best visual results. For those with thin or borderline thickness corneas, as well as higher myopic refractive errors, PRK can be performed with the confidence of assuring the patient’s long-term corneal stability.”

While some patients may only qualify for either LASIK or PRK based on an assessment of their individual eye, Dr. Grochmal says both procedures have proven effective and successful. He also recommends consulting with a highly trained and experienced eye surgeon before undergoing any procedure. “Every patient is unique and requires individualized care. A surgeon experienced in PRK and LASIK can help guide the patient in the better treatment for him or her with the goal of preserving corneal health.”

About Jay C. Grochmal, MD

Dr. Jay Grochmal received his medical degree from the University of Maryland and completed a rotating medical and surgical internship at the U.S. Public Health Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. He completed his residency at the Greater Baltimore Medical Center’s Department of Ophthalmology, achieving the rank of Chief Resident. He is a member of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgeons and the Maryland Society of Eye Physicians.


Dr. Jay Grochmal

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