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When Should You Consider PRK Instead of LASIK?

Man Rubbing Eye

When Should You Consider PRK vs. LASIK

When many patients visit LVC for their initial LASIK consultation, they are familiar with traditional LASIK surgery. During wavefront-optimized or Contoura™ LASIK, the surgeon uses a laser to create a small flap in your cornea, allowing them access to reshape it. However, most patients are not as familiar with PRK, another type of laser eye surgery that is used to achieve high-quality vision correction results. During PRK, instead of a laser being used to create a thin flap in your cornea, the surgeon will remove the thin top layer of the cornea entirely.

So which is right for you? It is very common for patients to pursue LASIK surgery first. If you are not a strong candidate for LASIK due to a number of different factors, your eye surgeon will discuss the process of PRK and if you are a good candidate for PRK.


There are a few reasons why you might consider PRK instead of LASIK:

  • You have poor corneal thickness or shape.
    If your cornea is too thin or oddly shaped, then your laser eye surgeon cannot safely create the small flap in your cornea that occurs in traditional LASIK. With PRK, this is not an issue as the entire top layer of the cornea is removed.
  • You have more time to devote to your recovery.
    While both procedures lead to the desired vision results, the recovery experience from PRK is slightly more intensive than LASIK. This is because the top layer of your cornea must grow back to protect your eye. In the meantime, you will need to take extra precautions such as avoiding exposure to bright sunlight for 4–6 weeks following the surgery.
  • You participate in martial arts or contact sports.
    If a LASIK patient were to suffer an eye injury following their surgery, the corneal flap created during the procedure could be impacted, putting their procedure results in jeopardy. This risk does not exist with PRK.


You work in a high-risk profession like construction, manufacturing, or firefighting.
In these types of work environments, eye safety and protection are paramount. Again, in most cases, it is not advisable for anyone who works in a high-risk profession to undergo traditional LASIK surgery. Again, if they return to work too quickly, the wound created by the corneal flap may not be fully healed.

One important note: It is not a given that all patients who do not qualify for LASIK will be eligible for PRK. Some qualifications of both surgeries are the same:

  • You must be 18 years of age.
  • You must have healthy eyes.
  • You must be in good general health.
  • You must have a stable vision prescription.

Ultimately, this decision will be made between you, your primary doctor, and your surgeon after closely reviewing your eye exam results and general medical history. We invite you to make your initial consultation appointment at LVC to discuss both laser eye surgery options.

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