What is the Difference Between LASEK and PRK?

  • February 11, 2020

LASEK and PRK have enabled millions of people to achieve excellent vision.

If you are considering laser eye surgery, there are a number of options to consider. Two of the most well-known procedures are LASEK (laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis) and PRK (photorefractive keratectomy). Both procedures have their pros and cons, and your eye doctor can help you determine which type of surgery is best for you based on your specific situation.

When it comes to comparing LASEK vs. PRK, the procedures have both similarities and differences. LASEK and PRK are both refractive eye surgeries that can be used to correct the following vision issues:

  • Myopia (nearsightedness)
  • Hyperopia (farsightedness)
  • Astigmatism (distorted or blurry vision)

Both procedures use an excimer laser to reshape the cornea so that when light enters the eye it is focusing properly on the retina, resulting in clear vision. 

PRK and LASEK Differences

PRK was the first laser eye surgery approved for vision correction, and LASEK came on the scene later. There are a few differences between the two.

With LASEK eye surgery, the surgeon cuts a thin flap on the cornea to get to the treatment area. After the correction has been completed the flap is replaced.

With PRK eye surgery, the surgeon removes the entire outer (epithelial) layer of the cornea to access the treatment area. After the surgery, the eye naturally heals and grows a new epithelial layer.

For patients with thinner corneas, PRK is typically the preferred option vs. LASEK. However, PRK requires a longer healing time than LASEK, which is one of the reasons many patients opt for LASEK.

Along with a faster recovery, LASEK patients typically experience less discomfort than PRK patients. They also have a lower risk for infection and other side effects such as inflammation and hazy vision. In addition, vision typically stabilizes more quickly in LASEK patients.

With PRK, the surgeon does have access to the entire thickness of the stroma vs. what is accessible with the LASEK flap. For patients with thinner corneas or those who have previously undergone a LASEK procedure, this extra access may be necessary to achieve optimal results.

While rare, there can be complications with the corneal flap with a LASEK procedure. Also, with PRK there is less likelihood of removing too much of the cornea with the excimer laser as compared to LASEK.

Both LASEK and PRK treatments provide excellent visual outcomes and freedom from glasses for distance vision for nearly all patients. PRK and LASEK generally provide equivalent visual outcomes. So why would someone choose LASEK versus PRK? Some patients prefer LASEK for its faster healing, and others prefer PRK for its extra safety.

It’s important to note that both PRK and LASEK are highly successful, low-risk surgeries that provide most patients with significant vision correction. Because every patient’s eyes are unique, it’s best to seek out a highly qualified, experienced eye surgeon such as Our Doctors.

Our Doctors have performed thousands of corrective vision surgeries in Rogers, and can recommend the type of surgery and treatment protocol that is best for your individual situation. If you would like to learn more about PRK or LASEK surgery contact BoozmanHof at 479-246-1700 or website to schedule a free consultation.