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The Differences Between PRK and LASIK

If you are considering a laser vision correction surgery and have been doing some research, you may be asking yourself, “Should I get PRK or LASIK?” You may not even be sure what PRK is, or how it is different from LASIK. As you weigh the pros and cons of both procedures, here is some background information to help provide some context.

PRK (Photorefractive Keratectomy) and LASIK (Laser-Assisted In Situ Keratomileusis) are both surgical procedures used to correct refractive errors of the eye, such as nearsightedness (myopia), farsightedness (hyperopia), and astigmatism. However, they differ in terms of the technique used to reshape the cornea, the outermost layer of the eye.

PRK was the first laser vision correction procedure introduced in the 1980s. In PRK, the surgeon removes the thin, outer layer of the cornea called the epithelium. Then, using an excimer laser, they reshape the cornea’s underlying tissue to correct the refractive error. After the reshaping is done, a protective contact lens is placed on the eye to promote epithelial regrowth. It takes a few days for the epithelium to regenerate, during which vision may be temporarily blurry. The recovery period is longer compared to LASIK.

LASIK, on the other hand, was introduced in the 1990s and has become a more popular procedure than PRK due to its quicker recovery time. During LASIK, a flap is created in the cornea using a femtosecond laser. The flap is then lifted, and an excimer laser is used to reshape the underlying corneal tissue. After the reshaping, the flap is repositioned, acting as a natural bandage, and it adheres without the need for stitches. The cornea heals rapidly, and visual recovery is usually faster compared to PRK.


Should I Get PRK or LASIK?

  • PRK and LASIK are both safe and effective laser vision correction surgeries. They both use laser technology to correct a patient’s vision. PRK, photorefractive keratectomy, was in practice before LASIK. While PRK is sometimes the lesser known alternative, it is very much still in regular use today.
  • One key difference between PRK and LASIK is how the surgery is performed. During LASIK, laser technology is used to create a flap in the patient’s cornea. During PRK, no flap is created; instead, the outer layer of  the patient’s cornea is removed, exposing an area for the laser to treat.
  • Recovery time from PRK surgery is typically longer than the recovery time from LASIK. It takes time for the outer layer of the cornea to heal following PRK, and a patient will usually be on prescription antibiotic eye drops for several months to promote the healing process. The post-operative recovery for LASIK is usually much shorter, as the corneal flap heals naturally, and patients can be feeling normal within just a few days.
  • Your eye doctor will recommend PRK or LASIK based on your unique eye health and vision history. If you are wondering whether you need PRK or LASIK surgery, the best place to start is with your eye doctor. He or she can best advise which procedure would best meet your needs and achieve the best result. PRK is often recommended as an alternative for patients who are interested in LASIK, but may have thin corneas or suffer from dry eye syndrome.

LASIK Vision Centers of Cleveland regularly performs both LASIK and PRK surgery for patients in the Cleveland area. Call today to schedule your free consultation and learn which surgery is right for you.


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