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This athlete should consider PRK - not LASIK

posted Feb 22, 2012, 4:18 PM by Jen Weigel   [ updated Feb 23, 2012, 6:43 PM ]
A lot of attention has surrounded the new sport of MMA - mixed martial arts.  What I can gather from my husband on this new sport is that it combines many different disciplines of martial arts to create entertainment for him and boring TV for me. 

In this article, it seems that an MMA fighter was denied a chance to participate in his sport when the Ohio Athletic Commission deemed his uncorrected vision to be too poor.  Instead of not participating in this specific fight, he proclaims that he's going to have LASIK to correct his vision within the next 10 days.

What I wouldn't give to do his refractive surgery consultation!  There are so many things wrong with his plans.  I'd have to assume that he actively wears his contacts.  Let's say that he wore spherical soft contact lenses.  Dr. Holzman, like most refractive surgeons, will require these lenses to be discontinued for at least 14 days.  Also, he's going to be really upset to learn that he is a better candidate for PRK since he is involved in a high-contact sport. 

Patients that have PRK for their refractive procedure tend to fall into four general categories:

1.  They are involved in certain high-contact sports where a LASIK flap would be problematic.  Since there is no flap with PRK, patients in high-contact sports do not ever have to worry about moving their flap.  Examples of high-contact sports include:  MMA, martial arts, rugby, kick boxing.  I even had a patient that did roller derby! 

2.  Their occupation puts them at risk for head contact.  We get a lot of police officers and EMTs that opt for PRK because their risk of altercation at work is much higher than for most people.  I had one patient that worked in a correctional facility who also opted for PRK.  While head contact is not the issue, most naval aviators will opt for PRK as well.

3.  We identify medical reasons for having PRK.  They might be running low on corneal thickness.  Their Pentacams might have some slight irregularities.  They might have dry eye that is harder to control.  They might have a positive adhesion test.  They might have EBMD.  We discuss all those factors with patients at their consultations.


4.  Miscellaneous.  Some people request PRK because their friend or family member had it.  Some people cannot deal with the thought of having a flap.  Some patients are quite informed about their refractive surgery options, and they recognize the many benefits of PRK.

So, what are the benefits of PRK:  less surgical complications, less post-operative complications, less chances of prolonged dry eye issues, and PRK patients do tend to like their vision better when compared to LASIK patients.  - jw 

P.S.  I just noticed that this MMA fighter is African American.  Patients that have darker skin pigmentation or spend a lot of time outside in the sun are more at risk for developing corneal haze after PRK.  To lessen the risk of this complication, Dr. Holzman has patients use Vitamin C 2000 mg/day and UV protection (sunglasses and/or hats) during the post-operative period. - jw