Comparing PRK and LASIK

July 29, 2021 — by Thomas Byrd, MD
Tags: Prk Lasik

Doctor operating on a patient during laser eye surgeryMany patients seek out laser vision correction to improve their vision and reduce their dependence on glasses or contacts. During laser vision correction procedures to correct refractive errors, ophthalmologists modify the cornea (the clear, outer covering of the eye) to improve vision.

At Byrd & Wyandotte Eye Clinic, we educate our patients on the distinctions between all forms of laser eye surgery, including PRK vs. LASIK. Patients in Detroit, MI, Dearborn Heights, MI, and Lincoln Park, MI, can ask us questions about PRK and LASIK procedures. In this blog post, we discuss the differences between these treatments, including candidacy and the recovery process.


PRK and LASIK are similar surgeries because they both use an excimer laser to reshape the corneal tissue so light focuses directly on the retina. Eye doctors use both methods to correct nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism.

Despite being alike, PRK and LASIK differ in the initial surgical step:

  • During PRK, ophthalmologists remove the epithelium (outermost layer of the cornea) to expose the stromal layer underneath.
  • During LASIK, eye doctors create a flap in the cornea. This flap allows access to the underlying corneal tissues and is closed once the procedure is complete.


Good candidates for PRK and LASIK must meet basic eligibility requirements:

  • Be over the age of 18
  • Have a consistent vision prescription that hasn’t changed significantly within the last year

Not everyone is eligible for refractive vision surgeries, but PRK has less strict requirements than LASIK. PRK may be ideal for patients who disqualify for LASIK, including patients with:

  • Thin corneas
  • Large pupils
  • Recurrent erosions
  • Predisposition for trauma (including military personnel or martial artists)


Here is a brief timeline of side effects and special considerations to keep in mind while recovering from LASIK and PRK surgery:


The American Refractive Surgery Council reports that most patients “resume most normal activities within a day or two after LASIK eye surgery,” with a total healing period lasting between three to six months.

During the first 24 hours after LASIK eye surgery, patients should rest at home and stay inside. If patients must go outside, they are encouraged to wear sunglasses. Some eye-related symptoms during this time may include:

  • Itching and burning sensation
  • Discomfort
  • Foggy vision (comparable to opening eyes underwater)
  • Dryness

LASIK restores vision within a few days for most patients. Even though you may feel tempted, do not rub your eyes during the first week to avoid disturbing the corneal flap, which will heal on its own after surgery. During the first week, patients may experience the following vision problems:

  • Halos at night
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Puffy eyelids
  • Tearing eyes


Up to four days after PRK surgery, patients may experience:

  • Blurry vision
  • Watering eyes
  • Light sensitivity
  • Dryness
  • A sensation of a foreign body in the eye
  • Itching

In addition, patients wear a special contact lens for a few days after surgery. Our doctor removes the bandage contact lens about five days after surgery if healing is satisfactory. Depending on the severity of refractive errors before surgery, patients typically notice a noticeable improvement after the doctor removes the bandage contact lens. Vision improves gradually with PRK, and sight typically reaches 20/40 or better three to six months after surgery for most patients.

Is LASIK or PRK Better?

After six randomized trials, Cochrane researchers revealed that “the effectiveness of these two procedures is comparable.” However, the main advantage that LASIK has over PRK is faster visual recovery time.

Book Your Free Consultation Now

The best way to decide which treatment is most suitable for you is to meet with an experienced ophthalmologist. Find out if you are a candidate for laser vision correction by calling (734) 284-2444 or messaging us online to schedule an appointment at Byrd & Wyandotte Eye Clinic.

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