Many people use LASIK as a blanket term to describe all types of laser eye surgery. This isn’t surprising considering LASIK is the most commonly performed type of laser eye surgery. LASIK stands for laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis and can be used to correct nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism.
During the surgery, your surgeon will create a small flap in your cornea with a blade or laser. Then, a computer-controlled laser will reshape your cornea. Once complete, the flap is folded back into place for healing. Certain side effects are possible during the healing process, although many are temporary. These side effects can include:
- Blurry vision
- Light sensitivity
- Dry eyes
PRK was the first type of laser surgery introduced, although it has largely been replaced by LASIK. Typically, PRK is recommended for patients who aren’t good candidates for LASIK, like those with thin corneas or severely dry eyes. PRK may also be a better fit for you if you’re extremely active, as there is no risk of flap-related complications with PRK.
The main difference between PRK and LASIK is that instead of making a corneal flap during your surgery, your surgeon will remove the epithelium (the outer layer of your cornea) with a special brush, blade, laser or alcohol solution. Then, a computer-programmed laser is used to reshape your cornea, similar to LASIK. The potential complications are also similar to LASIK for the most part, although PRK is generally considered more painful initially as the epithelium heals. However, there is no risk of flap loss.