What’s the Difference Between PRK and LASIK Laser Eye Surgeries?

February 16th, 2018
laser entering eye close up

LASIK isn’t the only type of laser eye surgery. PRK can be an equally effective solution to your vision problems.

While many people think of LASIK as a synonym for laser eye surgery, it isn’t the only form of laser eye surgery available. Indeed, similar procedures such as PRK can provide most patients with similar results. Nevertheless, there are some important distinctions between LASIK and PRK that patients should consider before undergoing laser eye surgery. Here are a few of the most important differences between the two.

What is LASIK Surgery?

LASIK (Laser Assisted in Situ Keratomileusis) is a type of laser eye surgery during which a surgeon uses a laser or blade to create a flap in the cornea, the structure responsible for refracting light in the eye. After creating the flap, the surgeon reshapes the cornea to correct its curvature, enabling the refraction to occur properly. As soon as the procedure is complete, the surgeon replaces the flap so that it can heal.

What is PRK Surgery?

PRK (Photorefractive Keratectomy) is also a variety of laser eye surgery during which a surgeon alters the shape of the cornea. Unlike LASIK, however, PRK involves removing the outer corneal layer entirely to fully reveal the cornea before reshaping the tissue. Since the outer corneal layer quickly regenerates within a few days, the procedure doesn’t place the eye at any greater risk than LASIK.

The Recovery Process

Because they’re founded on different techniques, LASIK and PRK have different recovery processes. After undergoing LASIK, most patients are able to resume most everyday activities almost immediately, though they should refrain from wearing cosmetics for at least two to three months to ensure that the eye completely heals. In contrast, most PRK patients need to wear a “bandage” contact lens and apply medicinal eye drops for several days after the procedure, though most should be able to return to work within the first week.

Making the Right Choice

While most people immediately associate laser eye surgery with LASIK, PRK can be an equally effective treatment for most vision problems. Indeed, PRK is often a better course of treatment for patients with thin corneas, chronically dry eyes, or abnormal astigmatism. Rather than simply assume that LASIK is the solution to all of your vision problems, you should discuss your condition with a qualified specialist to determine whether LASIK, PRK, or another type of laser eye surgery is the best option for you.

If you’d like to get started down the path to a glasses- and/or contact lens-free life, the eye experts at Swagel Wooten eye institute are here to help. Schedule your consultation today at our Chandler and Mesa locations!