differences between PRK and LASIKThere are two popular types of laser vision correction; PRK and LASIK.  Both use the excimer laser to reshape your cornea and both provide excellent, predictable results, but what is the difference and which procedure is right for you?

Corneal Refractive Errors

The curvature of your cornea predicts your refraction.  Laser vision, whether PRK or LASIK, works by changing the curvature of the cornea.

Corneas which are “steep” tend to focus light in front of the retina and is called myopia (nearsightedness).  A “flat” cornea focuses light behind the retina as in the case of hyperopia (farsightedness). Irregularly shaped corneas cause irregular focusing patterns and is called astigmatism.

Both PRK and LASIK can correct these with laser surgery.

What is the Difference Between PRK and LASIK?

The main difference between PRK and LASIK is the creation of a corneal flap.  LASIK requires a flap, PRK does not.

LASIK patients have a corneal flap created at the start of the procedure.  The flap is hinged on one side and removed to expose the underlying cornea.  After the reshaping with the laser, the flap is repositioned. Recovery is faster and with less discomfort.

No flap is created with PRK.  The overlying cornea is stripped away before the laser reshaping is performed.  The superficial corneal layer will grow back by itself. Recovery time and visual return is longer.  There may be more discomfort.

Both laser vision correction procedures are performed with the precision of an excimer laser which is also computer controlled.  The computer is programmed to correct your specific refractive error. .

Both PRK and LASIK are safe and have a high rate of patient satisfaction, but in some cases PRK is the best choice for refractive vision correction.  

Factors that can make PRK the Preferred Choice

Not everyone is a good LASIK candidate.  Here are some of the factors where PRK may be best suited for you:

Corneal Thickness — LASIK requires a thicker cornea to create a  flap. If your cornea is extremely thin, then PRK might be the right procedure for you.

Refractive Error — Patients with a high degree of myopia may not have enough corneal tissue to create a flap, hence LASIK may not be possible.

Career — Certain patients, such as construction workers, law enforcement or military personnel where there is greater chance of sustaining eye trauma, may elect to have PRK.  The LASIK corneal flap can cause complications in case of a work related accident.

Hobbies — Similar to above, certain contact sports, martial arts, or other types of high-intensity competition, might make you a better PRK candidate to avoid complications from a corneal flap.

Consult Your Doctor

During your consultation, we will explain your options for laser vision correction based upon your corneal thickness, refractive error, or your career or hobbies and why PRK may be the best choice for you.


We look forward to seeing you. If you would like to make an appointment or if you have questions about the right laser vision correction procedure for you, please call us.

Gregory Scimeca, M.D.
Ophthalmologist and Medical Director

Burlington County Eye Physicians
Eye Professionals, LLC (Millville, NJ)
Eye Physicians and Surgeons of Bucks County (Langhorne, PA)