ASA / PRK Eye Surgery

LASIK Alternative | Cavanaugh Eye Center in Kansas City

Advanced surface ablation (ASA) is a procedure similar to LASIK that corrects farsightedness, nearsightedness, and astigmatism. ASA, also called photorefractive keratectomy (PRK), is a proven LASIK alternative. Patients who may be better candidates for ASA/PRK are:

  • People who have irregular or thin corneas, certain prescriptions, uncontrolled dry eyes (despite treatment) or other corneal issues
  • Those who have had an early version of laser vision correction who now need additional correction
  • Service members who have been told they cannot undergo a LASIK procedure

ASA/PRK differs from LASIK in that initial recovery takes longer and there is a period of mild discomfort and blurry vision for approximately three to five days as the eyes heal. Cavanaugh Eye Center offers ASA/PRK for those patients where it is a safer choice. Long-term outcomes are similar between LASIK and ASA/PRK and the same excimer laser is used for both treatments. This allows patients optimal customization of their procedure. Like LASIK, both Wavefront Optimized and CONTOURA® custom treatment options are available for ASA/PRK patients.

Dr. Cavanaugh is among the most experienced PRK providers in the Kansas City metropolitan area. He can help you decide if ASA/PRK is right for you following a complete refractive consultation.

What are the Benefits of ASA/PRK?

ASA/PRK is not for everyone, but if you are a good candidate, there are plenty of benefits. Here are a few reasons why Cavanaugh Eye Center provides this life-changing procedure: a couple looking down at a map

  • The procedure has very good long-term outcomes, similar to those seen with LASIK.
  • It is a proven, effective solution for people who are not good candidates for LASIK (thin corneas, uncontrolled dry eyes, other corneal conditions).
  • ASA gives people the freedom to take part in activities they love, such as contact sports, reading, swimming, and hobbies without having to worry about glasses or contact lenses.
  • Very little time off is needed. Most people are back to work or doing activities they enjoy in just a few days.
  • It is a more affordable option than years of paying the costs of glasses or contacts. Plus, with financing options available, the cost can often be spread out into affordable monthly payments.
  • It is common for patients to have 20/20 vision or better—without glasses or contacts—following recovery.
  • There is no corneal flap created with ASA/PRK surgery, which reduces the possibility of complications.
  • There is no risk of tearing or damaging a flap at any point in the future following an ASA/PRK procedure. This is particularly good news for people in the military or who enjoy contact sports.

What is the Difference Between ASA and LASIK?

Like LASIK, ASA reshapes the cornea to dramatically improve vision. The main difference between ASA and LASIK is that, unlike LASIK, ASA does not utilize the creation of a flap in the top layer of the cornea.

Instead, the thin layer of protective skin that covers the cornea, called the epithelial layer, is gently removed. Then, an excimer laser—the same laser used in LASIK—is used to precisely and effectively reshape your cornea, giving you better vision.

Because the thin epithelial layer is removed altogether, it does take a few days to grow back. During that time, approximately three to five days, many people report that they feel some discomfort similar to having a mild foreign body sensation. Preservative-free artificial tears, prescribed post-operative medications and pain relievers typically provide significant relief.

How Do I Know If ASA/PRK is Right for Me?

Cavanaugh Eye Center is one of a select few refractive surgery centers in the United States to use our own laser center to provide LASIK and several LASIK alternatives, including ASA.

Dr. Cavanaugh is among the most experienced laser eye surgeons in the country, and he invests himself personally in providing the priceless gift of natural, clear vision. Our trained technicians will conduct a series of diagnostic tests using some of the most modern and thorough technology available today. These tests, as well as information about your general health and lifestyle, will provide Dr. Cavanaugh with the information he needs to determine which, if any, laser vision correction procedure is best for your unique eyes.

What to Expect During an ASA Procedure

Cavanaugh Eye Center’s state-of-the-art laser facility enables us to complete your ASA procedure within a short period of time. Plan to be at Cavanaugh Eye Center for about two hours on the day of your procedure. Be sure to arrange for a ride home following your procedure, as your vision will be less than optimal for driving immediately afterward. You can wear relaxed and comfortable clothing to your procedure.

While being prepared for surgery, you’ll receive anesthetic eye drops so that you can remain comfortable during the procedure. You may also be given something to calm your nerves, as it is completely normal to be nervous during any vision correction procedure.

As you lie back on our laser bed, a small lid holder will be gently placed around your eyelids to keep you from blinking during the procedure.

You will see a green blinking light as you look straight ahead, and Dr. Cavanaugh and staff will talk you through each element of the procedure. Before you know it, the procedure will be complete and the healing can begin. A special contact lens will be placed in your eye by Dr. Cavanaugh to protect your cornea as it heals.

Before you go home, you will be given simple instructions and eye drops to use as your eyes heal. You’ll also have an opportunity to ask questions or express any concerns. We want you to feel comfortable and confident about what to expect in the coming days.

You can expect some discomfort and irritability for a few days, but within about a week, your vision will dramatically improve. In the meantime, our Cavanaugh Vision team will be just a phone call away.

woman's eye close up

Is ASA/PRK Permanent?

During ASA/PRK, your cornea is reshaped. Those changes are permanent. However, the lens, located in the back of the eye, undergoes its own changes as we age. This is called presbyopia, or “over 40 vision.” Presbyopia is the main reason most of us need reading glasses after a certain age. These changes are the beginning of what eventually becomes cataracts.

ASA does nothing to or for the lens of the eye. In fact, they are completely different structures found in different locations. Presbyopia will still likely cause vision changes as you get older, and you may eventually need a separate procedure for presbyopia, or even cataract surgery.

The good news is that ASA does nothing to hinder procedures that correct presbyopia or cataracts. It also does not affect any treatments for diseases of the eye, such as glaucoma or macular degeneration.


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