PRK vs. LASIK: Which Surgery Is the Best for Your Eyesight?

When considering vision correction surgery, you may be wondering which option is the right one for you: PRK or LASIK. Both are low-risk procedures used to correct vision problems, such as astigmatism, nearsightedness, and farsightedness. They both have a high success rate and provide excellent results. However, there are some key differences to keep in mind during your decision-making process.

Here is a brief PRK vs. LASIK overview to help you make an informed decision on which one is the best for you.

Learn in This Article

  • PRK vs. LASIK: What’s the Difference?
  • How Do These Procedures Work?
    • PRK Procedure
    • LASIK Procedure
  • How Do You Prepare for LASIK vs. PRK?
  • What’s Recovery Like?
    • PRK Recovery
    • LASIK Recovery
  • The Cost of LASIK vs. PRK
  • Who Is the Best Candidate for LASIK vs. PRK?
  • Is PRK Better Than LASIK?
    • Pros of LASIK vs. PRK
    • Cons of LASIK vs. PRK
  • Key Takeaways

PRK vs. LASIK: What’s the Difference

There are two main types of laser surgery for vision correction: PRK and LASIK. Both procedures involve the use of a laser to reshape the clear outer layer of the eye called the cornea. 

PRK, or photorefractive keratectomy, is one of the first types of laser vision correction surgery. On the other hand, LASIK, also known as laser-assisted in-situ keratomileusis, is a more recent but common type of procedure that is also less invasive.

How Do These Procedures Work

PRK Procedure

In PRK, the surgeon will first remove a thin layer of tissue from the surface of the eye called the epithelium. This is done with a device called a microkeratome or a laser. Once this layer is removed, the surgeon will use an excimer laser to reshape the cornea.

After the surgery, a contact lens will be placed over the eye to protect the cornea as it heals.

LASIK Procedure

The LASIK procedure is relatively quick and painless, and has a high success rate. During LASIK, the surgeon uses a laser to create a small flap in the cornea and reshape it so that light can be properly focused on the retina. Finally, the flap is replaced, and the eye is given time to heal.

A majority of those who had LASIK surgery get improved vision as a result. Moreover, many of them no longer need to wear glasses or contact lenses.

How Do You Prepare for LASIK vs. PRK

Before the surgery, your eye doctor will examine your vision and measure your pupil and cornea. 

Whether you choose to undergo a LASIK or a PRK procedure, you will be advised to stop wearing your contact lens at least two weeks before the surgery to allow your cornea to return to its most natural shape. 

What’s Recovery Like

PRK Recovery

PRK surgery recovery is relatively simple. People who have had PRK can typically return to their normal activities within a few days. 

However, although most people feel better after a few days, their eyesight won’t fully stabilize for a month. For many patients, full recovery after PRK takes a couple of months. 

LASIK Recovery

Recovery from LASIK surgery is usually much quicker than PRK surgery. Most people feel fine six to twelve hours after the surgery and return to their normal activities the next day.

It’s worth noting, though, that you should avoid rubbing or touching your eyes to prevent further irritation. Some people may experience temporary eye dryness, light sensitivity, or glare, but these side effects typically improve within a few days or weeks.

The Cost of LASIK vs. PRK

Taking a close look at the PRK vs. LASIK price will show that there isn’t much difference between the two. However, the cost of these procedures highly depends on your location and the reputation and experience of your surgeon.

The latest report shows that, on average, LASIK costs about $2,246 per eye or $4,492 for both eyes. On the other hand, the average cost for PRK surgery can reach up to $2,300 per eye or $4,600 for both eyes.

Who Is the Best Candidate for LASIK vs. PRK

LASIK surgery is not suitable for everyone. The best candidates are typically people who are over 18 years old, have healthy eyes, and have had a stable prescription for at least a year. People with certain medical conditions, such as autoimmune diseases, may not be eligible for LASIK surgery since these conditions increase the risk of post-surgical infection. 

Additionally, PRK surgery may be a better option for people with thinner corneas, larger pupils, or certain types of refractive errors.

Is PRK Better Than LASIK

There is no clear answer as to which laser vision correction surgery is better. Both procedures have a high success rate in correcting vision. 

Let’s take a closer look at some of the most common LASIK and PRK surgery side effects and benefits. 

Pros of LASIK vs. PRK

Quick recovery, no stitches, and fewer follow-up appointments are some of the most common advantages of LASIK surgery. 

On the other hand, unlike LASIK, PRK has a lower risk of complications in the long run. Here’s why: PRK does not require the creation of a flap in the cornea.

Cons of LASIK vs. PRK

Despite the advantages mentioned earlier, LASIK surgery has its downfalls. First of all, it’s not recommended for people with a higher risk of eye infection or injury. Compared to PRK, LASIK surgery has a higher risk of dry eye and poor night vision.

On the other hand, PRK surgery causes more discomfort and it takes a patient longer to recover.

PRK vs. LASIK: Key Takeaways

Overall, both PRK and LASIK are effective methods to permanently correct vision. 

PRK is generally considered safer than LASIK as it doesn’t involve the creation of a corneal flap. Additionally, PRK tends to have a longer recovery time than LASIK, although both procedures typically result in significantly improved vision. The cost of both procedures also doesn’t differ that much. 

Ultimately, the best way to determine which approach is right for you is to consult with an experienced eye doctor.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you do PRK after LASIK?

While the majority of patients who underwent LASIK surgery saw an improved vision, there are a few cases where a follow-up procedure is necessary to attain the optimal vision. In cases like this, a PRK enhancement procedure is a safe option, especially when there is a risk for epithelial growth when re-lifting the corneal flap that was created in the initial LASIK surgery.

Additionally, although PRK enhancement surgery causes an increased risk of cloudy vision, using mitomycin C topically reduces this risk.

How long does PRK last?

PRK is one of the first types of laser vision correction surgery. To this day, it is still widely used. It is often considered the safest and most effective option for patients with thin corneas or other conditions that make LASIK surgery unsuitable.

PRK surgery is usually performed on an outpatient basis, and most patients achieve significant improvement in their vision within a few days. However, it may take months for vision to stabilize and reach the optimal level.

In most cases, PRK results are permanent, though some patients may need to undergo a follow-up procedure if their eyesight deteriorates over time.

Is LASIK surgery permanent?

LASIK surgery is a permanent solution to vision problems. However, your vision can potentially deteriorate as you age. In that case, an enhancement procedure may be necessary. Additionally, some patients experience side effects, such as dry eyes or night vision problems, which can negatively impact their quality of life.