Approved by the FDA in 1995, PRK was the first successful laser vision correction technique which involved directly altering the corneal curve, without the use of a covering flap. PRK is still frequently performed, but LASIK has become the more popular laser technique employed today, mainly because of its quicker recovery time.
LASIK is also a laser procedure to correct vision errors; it can correct nearsightedness [myopia], farsightedness [hyperopia], and/or astigmatism. LASIK has evolved from previous procedures like PRK, and is by far the most commonly performed laser vision correction procedure today.
The details distinguishing LASIK from PRK can easily be confusing to the layperson until fully explained by a trained professional. The difference between LASIK and PRK, is that in PRK the laser is applied directly to the surface of the eye to reshape it, whereas in LASIK a thin flap is created, then lifted, followed by the laser to reshape the inner cornea underneath the flap. The advantages of LASIK over PRK are that with this thin flap, the recovery of vision is much faster and there’s minimal if no discomfort at all, compared to PRK.
After the PRK procedure, the outer layer of the cornea requires additional time to heal properly; patients normally wear a temporary soft contact lens for comfort for a few days and need prescription eye drops for several weeks after surgery to prevent infection and inflammation. Peak vision typically occurs four to six weeks after the procedure.
There are, however, special instances where PRK will be preferable to LASIK. Indications for a surface ablation procedure such as PRK or Epi-LASIK instead of LASIK include significant dry eye, scarring of the surface of the eye, thin corneas or occupational hazards such as boxing or mixed martial arts.