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What are the differences between the two types of laser eye surgery: PRK versus LASIK?

Posted Dec 11 2012 7:58am

PRK was the first laser procedure to use the excimer laser for reshaping the surface layer of the cornea. PRK was approved by the FDA in 1994 but has actually been used on the surface of the cornea since 1988. It is considered to be a stable and predictable procedure. Because the very surface layer of the cornea, the epithelium, is an irregularly thick layer, it must be removed before a laser can be applied to the surface of the cornea. After the laser eye surgery procedure, it takes usually about three to seven days for the epithelium to resurface the cornea.

During this time, the patient's vision is not very good, and the eye is somewhat uncomfortable (it may feel like there is a grain of sand in the eye). Modern variations to this technology -- including cold application, the newer, smoother lasers, and LASEK -- have dramatically decreased the discomfort associated with PRK-related recovery. Still, healing time remains at about a week, with patient's vision rapidly improving over the next few weeks. You may elect to do both eyes the same day or wait two weeks before doing the second eye.

LASIK is a newer laser eye surgery procedure (1995) that involves lifting the protective flap of the cornea with a mechanical instrument called a microkeratome, or a newer, femtosecond laser called IntraLase®. The excimer laser treatment is carried out just as it is in PRK, on the bed of the cornea, where then the flap is repositioned onto the cornea. Because of this protective flap, the epithelial surface layer of the cornea is left intact, so LASIK's healing time is faster and less uncomfortable than it is with PRK. However, the process of making the flap adds a surgical risk to LASIK that is not present with PRK. To complicate matters, PRK carries an additional small risk of the complication of haze, a complication only rarely seen with LASIK. Confused? The next section will help you understand the relative risks and benefits of LASIK and PRK, so that you can decide which procedure is best for you.

If you are interested in finding out if you would be a good candidate for LASIK or another laser eye surgery procedure, and live in Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, the Los Angeles area or anywhere else and can come to our office for a complementary consultation, contact us to schedule a consultation with the Beverly Hills LASIK Center today. please visit us at:

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