LASIK vs. PRK – A Comparison of the Safety, Effectiveness, and Risks

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LASIK vs. PRK – A Comparison of the Safety, Effectiveness, and Risks


April 2024

The decision to undergo corrective eye surgery is one wrought with a mixture of anticipation, hope, and uncertainty. While the idea of having clear vision without the need for glasses is undoubtedly enticing, finding the right procedure can be challenging. This is highlighted in the case of PRK vs. LASIK, as both treatments are laser-based, correct refractive errors, and reshape the cornea to improve vision. To help you unravel the subtle nuances between these two, let’s compare their safety, effectiveness, and risks, so you can choose the one that perfectly aligns with your vision goals; apprehension-free.

Exploring The Subtle Distinctions Between LASIK vs. PRK Vision Treatment

On the surface, both LASIK and PRK are laser-assisted surgeries that reshape your cornea in order to correct for refractive errors such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. The key difference between LASIK and PRK is in how we treat the outer layer of the cornea (the epithelium). For patients getting LASIK, a thin flap is created through both the epithelium and the layer beneath known as the corneal stroma. The flap gets lifted to expose the underlying corneal stromal tissue. The excimer laser then reshapes this stromal layer and the flap is put back into place. With PRK, the entire outer epithelial layer of the cornea is removed, exposing the stroma. The laser then reshapes the stromal bed. Over a few days, the epithelium will grow back across the cornea.

The same excimer laser is used in PRK as in LASIK. The treatment patterns made by the laser are the same for both and so is the reshaping. The flap created during LASIK is re-positioned after treatment to act as a natural bandage, while a special bandage contact lens is used with PRK that covers and protects the eye to promote healing.

How PRK vs. LASIK Compare In The 3 Major Areas of Safety, Effectiveness, and Risk

In LASIK a flap is created while in PRK there is no flap, rather the top epithelial layer is removed. But this difference isn’t enough to know which treatment to choose for your vision goals. For this, we need to compare how these two treatments stack up in the areas of safety, effectiveness, and potential complications.

Measuring Safety

In the history of LASIK vs PRK, both procedures have proven themselves to be equally safe, with high success rates and minimal risk for infections, inflammation, and other complications. LASIK is more commonly used than PRK, though it is considered to have a slightly higher risk of, albeit rare, flap-related complications. PRK carries a very small risk of corneal haze that is not seen in LASIK.


The end results of LASIK vs PRK are quite close to each other, both being highly effective treatments for nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. LASIK is well known for its rapid recovery times and a success rate of well above 95%. Most patients notice clear vision within an hour of treatment and are able to return to their usual activities by the next day.

PRK, on the other hand, has been in use for longer than LASIK, earning it a reputation as a “tried and true” method. Recovery times are longer; it takes about 3-5 days for the corneal epithelium to heal. Until the epithelium regrows, the vision is hazy and a bit foggy. After the epithelium heals, it needs about 4 weeks to mature. By 4 weeks out the PRK vision should equal LASIK. Remember, both PRK and LASIK use the same laser and same treatment to reshape the cornea, so it should come as no surprise that the vision produced by both is the same once fully healed. It’s important to note that PRK is often better suited to patients with thin corneas, dry eyes, have high degrees of myopia/astigmatism, or who are at greater risk of eye trauma.

Comparing The Risks of PRK vs. LASIK

The chances of complications are slim, but nonetheless, it is important to consider the potential side effects you may face.

  • Patients of either procedure may experience temporary dry eyes, which can be managed with eye drops. For LASIK and PRK patients this usually resolves within a few weeks.
  • Visual disturbances in the form of halos or glare may occur temporarily after PRK or LASIK, but these resolve fairly quickly.
  • In terms of PRK vs. LASIK, infections are exceedingly rare, but chances are slightly higher for PRK patients, due to the fact that the epithelium takes a few days to regrow. The epithelium is a barrier to ocular infection.
  • There is a rare possibility for under-correction (too little corneal tissue is removed) or over-correction (too much tissue removed) with PRK or LASIK treatments, leading to the need for an enhancement.
  • For LASIK patients, there is a risk of flap-related complications such as dislocation or epithelial in-growth.

If you’ve been contemplating corrective eye surgery, or have more questions, our team at OVO LASIK + LENS will happily guide you through making an informed decision on which procedure meets your vision needs. Don’t compromise on your vision, give us a call today at 877 686 3937, email, or contact us via our website.

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