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LASIK vs PRK. The difference is down to the first step in the surgical procedure.  Laser eye surgery corrects vision problems such as short-sightedness, long-sightedness and astigmatism. Both surgeries work by reshaping the cornea. 

If you’re thinking about having laser correction surgery you may be wondering which procedure is the right one for you. 

Your eye specialist can discuss the options with you to advise which procedure is best for your individual circumstances. Whichever one you have, both are safe and have similar long-term results.

The difference is down to the first step in the surgical procedure.  Laser eye surgery corrects vision problems such as short-sightedness, long-sightedness and astigmatism. Both surgeries work by reshaping the cornea. 

The cornea is like the glass on the front of your watch, it is the clear tissue at the front of the eye that bends the light as it passes through to focus your vision. In short-sightedness the cornea is too steep and in long-sightedness the cornea is normally too flat to focus the light. Laser eye surgery works by reshaping the cornea using an excimer laser, this then allows light entering the eye to be properly focused onto the retina.

In LASIK (Laser-Assisted-In-Situ Keratomileusis) the surgeon makes a flap in the cornea using a femtosecond laser, not a blade. This flap is then lifted and the excimer laser applied to reshape the cornea. The flap is then carefully placed back into position and it heals over the cornea surface overnight.

In PRK (Photo-Refractive Keratectomy) the thin outer layer of the cornea (epithelium) is removed and the underlying corneal tissue is reshaped by the excimer laser.  A soft contact lens bandage is then placed on top of your cornea to protect your eye. The epithelial layer grows back, repairing itself, within 4-5 days after the surgery and then your surgeon removes the contact lens bandage. 

So, with the two different surgical procedures used, what are the differences for the patient? The main difference is in the initial discomfort and speed of visual recovery. 

LASIK recovery is faster as only the edges of the corneal flap need to heal. Most people report seeing clearly within a few hours and are able to drive, read and use a computer the next day. The initial discomfort after the surgery is usually mild and doesn’t last long, around 4-5 hours. Your vision is great from day one but can have some minor fluctuations over the following months. 

PRK has the laser treatment performed on the corneal surface, there is no flap. However, the outer epithelial layer of the cornea takes longer to heal and that’s why the recovery is slower. Your surgeon will use a bandage contact lens and give you eye drops (anti-inflammatory and antibiotic drops) which will help the recovery and any discomfort. The post surgery discomfort and blurring vision can take 2-3 days to ease off. At one month after your surgery you can expect 90-95% of your optimal visual result and then the remaining 5-10% will improve over the following 2 months.  Without the corneal flap, more corneal tissue is left intact making this procedure a better choice if you have thin corneas.  

Both LASIK and PRK procedures provide excellent visual results and freedom from glasses for nearly all patients.  A thorough examination of your eyes to check for suitability by Dr Reece Hall will determine which of the two procedures are most suitable for you.  At Bowen Eye Clinic we find 90% of patients have LASIK and 10% would have PRK. 

Both procedures cost the same, $3,000 per eye and take a similar time to complete the treatment.

Call 0800 69 20 20 to book your free assessment at Bowen Eye Clinic.