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PRK v LASIK – What is the difference?

21 March 2016


Both treatments come under the term Eye Laser Surgery, but what is the actual difference between PRK and LASIK in terms of selection? They both are used to correct near-sightedness, farsightedness and astigmatisms that the patients may be suffering from.

However, there are some differences when it comes to the two, and it’s normally the case that each patient will either be eligible for PRK or LASIK when it comes time to actually undergo the procedure itself. 


PRK involves removing all of the epithelial the entire thickness of the stromal tissue underneath is accessible for treatment. In comparison to the flap created in LASIK surgery, including both epithelial and deeper stromal tissue, a much smaller area is open to treatment with the excimer laser.

With the SCHWIND AMARIS 750S laser system, it is possible to carry out no-touch, all-laser surface ablations. The TransPRK is the only surface treatment where the eye doesn’t require contact with an instrument.

Furthermore, the epithelium is removed more precisely and more easily than through manual abrasion. Because the wound surface is smaller than, for example, with manual PRK, the healing process is shorter. Additionally, both the ephitelium and the stroma are ablated in a single procedure. This shortens the overall treatment time significantly and minimises the risk of corneal dehydration.

Due to the distinct difference between the two procedures, it naturally takes a patient a little longer to recover in the healing stages for PRK. There is also a higher risk of obtaining an eye infection as the eye is more open to the environment, plus haziness of vision is much more likely.

Although LASIK patients experience less pain and they can recover in a shorter stretch of time when compared to the gradual healing from PRK, there are benefits to opting for the PRK procedure. As no flap is created with PRK, there is no risk of flap-related complications. Dry eyes have also been noted to be less common with PRK treatments.



LASIK (laser insitu keratomilieusis) is a laser ablation under a hinged flap of corneal tissue. LASIK is used to correct myopia and hypermetropia together with associated astigmatism. There are two steps in the LASIK procedure.

First, the surgeon creates a micro-thin corneal flap, which is lifted to expose the inner cornea for step two, tissue ablation by the excimer laser. The Intralase Femtosecond laser introduced the concept of blade-free LASIK in 2001 and today it is one of the fastest growing refractive surgical techniques. Femtosecond laser provides a blade free approach by creating thousands of microscopic bubbles at a precise depth beneath the corneal surface.

LASIK patients can recover from a few days minimum. Due to the unlikely possibility of any complications with LASIK Laser Eye Surgery, the quicker recovery process is more desirable for most patients who may be eager to experience the world with clear vision without corrective lenses.



However, there are not all differences when it comes to the procedures – in order to allow light to be properly focused on the retina for clear vision, both the PRK and LASIK procedures involve making slight adjustments to the shape of the cornea.

The LASIK procedure creates a hinged flap on the cornea which is then opened and the laser is directed directly underneath making slight adjustments to correct a person’s vision whereas the PRK involves the removal of the epithelial, which is the outer layer of the cornea and then the laser works on the exposed surface.

Both PRK and LASIK procedures deliver excellent results and have been successful on thousands of patients. Depending on preferences and advice from a doctor a patient may be more suited to one procedure more than the other, though the result remains the same with substantially improved vision for patients.


If you have more questions about either of the procedures, feel free to call Hunter Laser Vision on 1800-44-20-20 and speak to our counselors about Eye Laser Surgery options.

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