Eye Care EducationChoosing Your Refractive Surgery Platform

fort collins lasik prk

The Eye Center of Northern Colorado is the only vision correction provider in Northern Colorado to offer multiple vision correction platforms. PRK, LASIK and SMILE are all laser surgeries designed to produce clearer vision. But, since everyone’s eyes are unique, having access to each option allows you to decide which platform is best for you, your eyes and your lifestyle.

Chris Winey, Refractive Department Manager at the Eye Center, consults patients every day about laser vision correction. Once it’s been determined that a patient is a good candidate for a refractive procedure, he talks with them about which platform would be the best choice for their eyes.

“It’s a personalized service,” Chris says, referring to how the Eye Center approaches each patient’s procedure and to the surgical platform itself. Chris listens to his patients’ motivations for having the procedure done, he learns what they like to do for fun, what they do for work and how they feel having refractive surgery would improve their day-to-day lives. This information, paired with the physical condition of their eyes, helps inform the choice between PRK, LASIK and SMILE.



PRK – photorefractive keratectomy – was the first type of vision correction surgery approved by the FDA. A patient’s job and lifestyle have a lot of influence on whether they select this procedure. For instance, during PRK, the top layer of the cornea is removed before the laser then reshapes the cornea. After the procedure, during recovery, the top layer of the cornea regrows, as it’s made of regenerative tissue. This removal and regrowth process eliminates any risk associated with having a corneal flap – the process in a LASIK procedure – which makes PRK a great option for patients with thinner corneas. This process of regeneration can also extend recovery time, so patients need to think about any time restrictions in their work life and lifestyle activities.



LASIK procedures use the same type of lasers as PRK procedures. The difference is in how the eye is prepared prior to the laser reshaping the cornea. During LASIK, the top layer of the cornea is not totally removed. Instead, a thin corneal flap is created, allowing access to the eyes’ supporting tissue. After the cornea is reshaped, the corneal flap is laid back down. Two things to consider when thinking about LASIK: 1) once the corneal flap is created, and then replaced, it no longer contributes to the overall strength of the cornea, so those involved in activities and careers where eye injuries are common may want to consider an alternative platform; 2) one of the major benefits of this procedure is that there’s almost immediate recovery.



SMILE – Small Incision Lenticule Extraction – unlike LASIK, does not involve creating a corneal flap, so the structure and stability of the cornea is preserved. Instead, a tiny incision is made in your cornea and a contact lens-shaped piece of tissue (the lenticule) is removed. The removal of the lenticule is what reshapes the cornea and reduces the need for glasses. The entire procedure is done in a single step, without compromising the surface of the eye.

Chris Winey says that engaging with patients who are engaged with their health care is one of the best parts of his job. While it’s beneficial for patients to have questions about their vision, their eye health and what procedures will get them to where they want to be, it’s also rewarding for Chris and his team at the Eye Center to get to know their patients on a personal level; to talk through procedures and benefits, as well as any anxiety or fear so, together, they can find the best option for each individual.

At the Eye Center of Northern Colorado, refractive surgery is a personal experience. It has everything to do with personal vision needs, lifestyle choices and everyday activities, as well as achieving clearer, brighter vision without glasses or contact lenses.

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