What is the difference between LASIK and PRK laser eye surgery?

20 Nov 2014

When undergoing laser eye surgery, more often than not the perception is that there is just one type of surgical procedure, and that this same single method is used across the board for each and every individual patient. This is not actually the case, however, as there are in fact two alternative treatment options which we offer here at Optilase Dublin; one is called PRK (also commonly referred to as LASEK), the other is LASIK. But what exactly is the difference, you may ask- and why are there even different laser surgery options at all?
In truth, the two treatments are quite closely aligned but there is always a good reason why our Optometrist will opt for one procedural method over the other. It is not a case of offering a choice to the patient, but rather a decision that is taken by our Optometrist, based on the results of an initial consultation which we provide free of charge, ensuring that the correct, most suitable laser surgery option is given to each individual who presents to Optilase; remember, each and every person represents a different challenge as no two pairs of eyes are completely identical!
Based on the condition of the cornea in the eye (some are thinner than others), our Optometrist will then be able to see exactly what way the inner part of the cornea must be accessed in each individual case; this in turn will determine whether the LASIK or PRK treatment is the best option for the patient in question.


The LASIK procedure is the most common procedure performed worldwide, accounting for around 7 times more procedures than PRK. During this procedure, a thin layer of the cornea is lifted to create a flap, using blade-free Intra Lase Technology. The laser is then applied to the underlying surface to reshape the cornea, correcting the patient’s prescription. The flap is then simply replaced into exactly the same position as before, and the procedure is complete.
The main features of the LASIK method are:

  • A very rapid recovery time, with a full recovery usually achieved within 48 hours
  • Little or no post-operative discomfort
  • 20/20 vision



The PRK procedure may be the preferred laser treatment option for a patient with a very steep or very thin cornea, making it difficult for the surgeon to make a proper flap, as is the case with LASIK.
Instead, during the LASEK/PRK procedure the surgeon simply loosens the outer layer of the cornea, known as the epithelium, using an Ethanol solution and moves it to one side. He then applies a laser to the underlying surface in order to reshape the cornea, eliminating the patient’s prescription in the process. Following this, a special protective contact lens (fulfilling the function of a bandage) is placed over the cornea for a period of 5 days.
The main features of the LASEK/PRK method are:


  • Generally the preferred treatment for people with thinner corneas
  • Often recommended for those that partake in contact sport
  • 20/20 vision
  • Slightly longer recovery time (5-7 days)

To find out if you are a suitable candidate for this life-changing procedure contact Optilase today on +353 1 223 8821 or fill out the green contact form above right. See the Difference with Optilase!

Article written by Alan Shanley


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