For patients seeking to permanently improve their vision, both LASIK and PRK are great options, with lasting results. Both procedures offer pros and cons, though both are usually able to provide 20/20 vision without wearing glasses or contacts.

The main difference between Laser-Assisted In Situ Keratomileusis (LASIK) and Photorefractive Keratectomy (PRK) is within the procedure itself.

What is the Difference in Procedure?

LASIK requires three minutes per each eye and involves the use of a laser to create a flap in the cornea. The corneal flap is then gently lifted and the corneal tissue is reshaped with an excimer laser in order to correct vision.

In contrast, PRK requires 6-7 minutes per eye, and the first step involves removing the thin outer layer of the cornea (epithelium). Once the epithelium is removed, the underlying corneal tissue is reshaped with an excimer laser.

Both procedures are trusted and produce similar vision correction outcomes. The best procedure really depends on the patient’s needs and long-term goals.

How is LASIK’s Recovery Time Different From PRK?

There are many benefits of a LASIK procedure. However certain aspects of LASIK might entice a patient to undergo the procedure over PRK.  One advantage LASIK has over PRK is its recovery time. LASIK has a shorter recovery time than PRK.

Since the cells are removed from the epithelial layer during a PRK procedure, a patient needs a few days to grow new epithelial cells that will recover the surface of their eye. Patients also need to use eye drops to encourage healing and to minimize discomfort from the procedure.

For patients who are seeking a shorter healing time, LASIK might be a better fit.

PRK Is Better for Certain Occupations

PRK is a great LASIK alternative for patients who have thin or irregular corneas. In order to be a candidate for LASIK, a patient needs sufficient corneal thickness so that your surgeon can create a flap in your eye.

If a patient is disqualified for LASIK due to thin or irregular corneas, your surgeon may suggest PRK instead. In addition, PRK can be a better option for those who are in certain occupations where there is an increased risk of trauma to the eye—think professional athletes in combat sports, military, etc. Trauma to the eye could disturb the flap created in LASIK, creating potential complications and the need for emergency eye care.

Who Are Candidates for LASIK?

LASIK laser eye surgery is considered the best fit for patients with thick corneal tissue flaps who want minimal downtime.

Candidates for LASIK Include a Patient Who:

  • Is 18 years or older
  • Does not have irregular or thin corneas
  • Experiences a stable prescription
  • Has no history of active corneal disease
  • Has no significant eye issues or disease (glaucoma, macular degeneration, keratoconus)

Who Are Candidates for PRK?

PRK is great for patients seeking a less impactful procedure and often have special conditions that prevent them from undergoing LASIK.

Candidates for PRK Include a Patient Who:

  • Experiences a stable prescription
  • Has an irregular astigmatism
  • Has no significant eye issues or disease (glaucoma, macular degeneration, keratoconus)
  • Is at high-risk for eye trauma
  • Has thin or irregular corneal tissue

We highly recommend that patients take our online LASIK self-test. By answering a few simple questions, one of our vision coordinators will contact you to discuss which vision correction procedure best meets your needs.

Beautiful Blue eye of a girl

The Right Procedure for You

Ultimately, the only way to find out if LASIK or PRK is right for you is to schedule a complimentary consultation with an experienced surgeon. Your eye doctor will be able to provide you with the best solution based on your eye anatomy, needs, and prescription.

To schedule your complimentary LASIK consultation, please call us at (805) 987-5300 or text us at 805-621-7737. We also offer a quick and convenient online appointment scheduler. Pick a date and time that work best for you and, just like that, your appointment will be on the books!