For patients with thinner corneal thickness or irregular epithelium (the top skin surface of the cornea) it may be a better option to perform Photo Refractive Keratectomy (PRK). PRK is also preferred when correcting vision in patients with cornea transplants and sometimes used for enhancements in patients who have had previous LASIK that was done several years in the past.
PRK was developed before LASIK as a way to correct vision by reshaping the cornea in the early 1990s. PRK is similar to LASIK with the major difference being that a corneal flap IS NOT created during PRK. PRK involves removing the superficial skin cells of the cornea (the epithelium) followed by the same laser treatment that is performed during LASIK. Following the laser treatment, a soft bandage contact lens is put on the eye for the first few days to aid the healing process and provide comfort for the patient.
Please take a moment to watch the video below that gives an overview of the PRK procedure.
The other main difference when comparing PRK and LASIK is the early postoperative period. Due to the removal of the superficial surface cells of the cornea (the epithelium) with PRK there is a slower recovery of comfort and best vision. Patients undergoing PRK should allow time off work or any other critical task for the first 3-4 days to allow the eye to properly heal. Most PRK patients are back to normal activities after about a week and then the postoperative course is much like that of a LASIK patient.
For more information about the difference between LASIK and PRK watch the video below: