PRK (photorefractive keratectomy)

This procedure used to be the most common vision correction procedure.

Both PRK and LASIK are grouped under the title"laser eye surgery." Each procedure is a little different when it comes to advantages and disadvantages.

LASIK patients have less discomfort and obtain good vision more quickly (with PRK vision improvement is gradual and over a few days or even months), but many surgeons prefer PRK for patients with larger pupils or thin corneas.

PRK was invented in the early 1980s. The first FDA approval of a laser for PRK was in 1995, but the procedure was practiced in other countries for years. Actually, many Americans had the surgery done in Canada before it was available in the U.S. PRK is performed with an excimer laser, which uses a cool ultraviolet light beam to precisely remove ("ablate") very tiny bits of tissue from the surface of the cornea in order to reshape it. When you reshape the cornea, it will focus light into the eye and onto the retina, providing clearer vision than before.

Both nearsighted and farsighted people can benefit from PRK. With nearsighted people, the goal is to flatten the too-steep cornea; with farsighted people, a steeper cornea is desired. Also, excimer lasers can correct astigmatism, by smoothing an irregular cornea into a more normal shape.


LASek (laser epithelial keratomileusis) is a relatively new procedure that is technically a variation of PRK. This procedure is also called epithelial LASIK or E-LASIK, Epi-LASEK, LASeK is used mostly for people with corneas that are too thin or too flat for LASIK. This procedure was developed for patients who do not have the ideal thickness or diameter of their cornea to have LASIK.

In LASEK, the epithelium, or outer layer of the cornea, is cut not with the microkeratome cutting tool used in LASIK, but with a finer blade called a trephine.

Watch the video below to learn more...

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