The definitive difference between LASIK and PRK is that, in LASIK, a flap must be cut in your cornea and, in PRK, no flap is cut. PRK was the first laser eye surgery approved for vision correction, and LASIK came on the scene later. The main difference between PRK and LASIK is in the first step of the procedure.
- PRK: laser energy is applied to the surface of the eye
- LASIK: laser energy is applied under a corneal flap
For patients with thinner corneas, PRK is typically the preferred option vs. LASIK. However, PRK requires a longer healing time than LASIK. Other differences between the procedures include:
- Feeling of pressure during the procedure
- Experience a mild foreign body sensation in the eye for 3 hours after procedure
- Often clear vision within 24 hours of procedure
- Faster procedure with little or no pressure felt
- More irritation is felt for about 3 days after procedure
- Clear vision obtained more gradually as eye heals
While rare, there can be complications with the corneal flap with a LASIK procedure. Since no flap is made with PRK these theoretical risks do not exist with PRK.
With PRK, the surgeon does have access to the entire thickness of the stroma vs. what is accessible with the LASIK flap. This is because the flap is much thicker than the epithelial layer removed with PRK. For patients with thinner corneas, LASIK could thin the cornea too much and thereby weaken its structural integrity. This could lead to an irregular shape of the cornea and blurred vision even with eyeglasses.
Numerous scientific studies have documented the fact that in the end there is no difference in the visual results from LASIK and PRK. After all, they utilize the same excimer laser to change the shape of the cornea. Our patients have been extremely happy with both procedures.
Should I Get LASIK or PRK?
Both PRK and LASIK are highly successful, low-risk surgeries that provide most patients with significant vision correction. LASIK and PRK are generally not covered by insurance and are similar in cost. For more information about pricing and financing options, read about the cost of LASIK. The only way to know which procedure is best for you is a consultation with a LASIK surgeon.
Dr. Lipstock has performed thousands of corrective vision surgeries in Richmond and will give advice about which surgery will work best for your unique eyes. To find out conclusively whether or not LVC is right for you, schedule your free LASIK Consultation. Read more information about LASIK surgery or PRK surgery.