If you are considering sight-corrective surgery, you have probably heard of LASIK and PRK. But what are they? What are the differences and advantages or disadvantages to each?

PRK (Photorefractive keratectomy) and LASIK (Laser-Assisted in-Situ Keratomileusis) are both laser eye surgeries. PRK does not create a corneal flap, which is what allows faster healing in LASIK patients. The creation of a corneal flap is the most common form of complications, however, and can cause mild to severe damage to the cornea and possible vision loss. The risk of infection is slightly higher in PRK patients, but infections in general are rare. If you have large pupils or thin corneas, your surgeon may recommend PRK.

PRK involves the use of an excimer laser to sculpt the cornea. The corneal epithelium (surface of the eye) is removed, and the newly exposed surface receives laser pulses. The deep layers of the cornea are not affected. LASIK also uses an excimer laser, but instead of removing the corneal epithelium, the surgeon creates a flap to be lifted to expose the cornea for treatment. The flap is then positioned back into place.

Generally, PRK patients experience longer recovery times than LASIK patients. LASIK patients will see an improvement in eyesight after 1 to 2 days while PRK patients may have blurriness and fuzzy eyesight for up to a week.

Although LASIK offers quicker recovery, the two procedures are similar in long-term results. Depending on your condition, your eye surgeon may recommend either surgery. Some studies have found that LASIK yields better long-term refractive stability, but this is largely dependent upon the patient and their personal needs.