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PRK, or photorefractive keratectomy laser eye surgery, is similar to Traditional LASIK surgery in that a skilled surgeon performs the procedure using a computer-generated, cold laser beam to precisely remove and sculpt corneal tissue at the microscopic level.

In addition, the goal of having PRK LASIK laser surgery is the same as Traditional LASIK: to correct nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism, and reduce or eliminate the need for glasses or contacts for everyday activities such as sports, swimming, and driving.

It’s also important to note that, like Traditional LASIK, PRK LASIK does not correct for presbyopia and that Traditional LASIK patients will need over-the-counter reading glasses with the onset of this natural, age-related condition, which causes the eyes crystalline lenses to lose some of their ability to “autofocus” for near-vision work starting in middle age.

The PRK LASIK procedure does have one significant difference from that of Traditional LASIK. Instead of creating a hinged corneal flap, the outermost surface layer of the cornea (the epithelium) is polished to allow the excimer laser access to its underlying layers for microscopic ablation to correct vision. PRK LASIK may be chosen as a better alternative for patients with certain eye conditions, such as when their epithelium is too thin to safely create a corneal flap.

Two other differences PRK LASIK has from Traditional LASIK are found in the procedure’s final step and in postoperative recovery. The final step in PRK is placing a soft contact lens “bandage” over the cornea to protect it while the epithelium cells regenerate and re-cover the surface of the eye. PRK postoperative recovery takes longer with more hazy vision and discomfort than Traditional LASIK surgery. Still, PRK can be an excellent option for some patients who do not qualify for Traditional LASIK.

How does PRK LASIK work?

PRK LASIK laser eye surgery works by reshaping the curvature of the cornea. This changes the way light travels through the cornea to the retina— the back of the eye— so that light rays focus more precisely on it, allowing the vision in the treated eye to be in better focus. The result is sharper, clearer vision.

What happens during the PRK LASIK eye surgery procedure?

  • A mild sedative may be prescribed to help the patient relax before surgery.

  • The patient is awake and lying down comfortably during the procedure.


  • The patient’s eyelids are gently held in place, and their head is supported to remain still during the LASIK eye procedure, which lasts between 5 and 15 minutes.


  • Local anesthetic eye drops are administered to fully numb the patient’s eyes before the LASIK eye procedure begins.

  • During the surgery, a slight pressure sensation may be felt around the eye, but there is no pain.

  • The surgery begins with a highly skilled surgeon polishing the thin, outermost layer (the epithelium) in the center of the cornea to allow the excimer laser access to its underlying layers to correct vision.

  • Microscopic laser ablation is performed in the underlying layers of the cornea using a state-of-the-art, computer-assisted laser system. The surgeon directs and operates the laser as the computer system monitors and tracks the eye.

  • Once the corrective treatment is complete for one eye, a soft contact lens “bandage” is put on the polished area of the cornea to protect it as it heals. Then the same treatment is applied to the other eye.

What is recovery like after PRK LASIK eye surgery?

  • After laser eye surgery, there is typically more short-term blurred vision and eye discomfort than following Traditional LASIK.


  • A nap immediately following eye surgery and rest for 24 to 64 hours after that are recommended.


  • The patient will have a follow-up exam on the same day as PRK LASIK surgery, in the afternoon.


  • Eyedrops will be prescribed for comfort and healing in the days following surgery. The patient is responsible for following the supplied eye care instructions once home for the best outcome.


  • The soft contact lens “bandage” will be removed at Limberg LASIK in about 5 days—the time it takes for new epithelial cells to regenerate and cover the surface of the eye.


  • Noticeable improvements in vision may be gradual, from a few days up to a couple     of weeks.


  • Although most PRK surgery patients can drive 1 to 3 weeks after the procedure, it can take 3 to 6 months to achieve optimal vision.


  • Avoiding certain activities, such as swimming or contact sports, is recommended for several weeks.

PRK LASIK eye surgery can be advantageous for eligible patients who:


—are between 18 and 40 years of age and want to experience living life to the fullest with clear vision without the hassle of eyeglasses or contacts.

—are over 40 years of age and are seeking their personal best distance vision for high-performance and water sports, or night driving.

—are ineligible for Traditional LASIK because their epithelium is too thin to safely create a corneal flap.

—understand that even with PRK LASIK, they will eventually need over-the-counter reading glasses for close work (usually starting after 43 years of age).

—who have tried Monovision blended focus vision with a contact lens trial but did not like it.

—who have had difficulty adapting to vision changes with new bifocals or eyeglass prescriptions or have rejected the idea that Monovision LASIK will work for them.

Who is not a candidate for PRK LASIK?

The complimentary, initial Limberg LASIK consultation includes a thorough evaluation of eye and general medical health and mental wellness history to ensure that a patient is a fit for a LASIK vision correction procedure. The following are considerations that factor into ineligibility for any of the LASIK vision correction procedures:  

—Pregnant or nursing women are not candidates for LASIK eye surgery. Hormones associated with both can cause vision instability. Women are advised to wait for a minimum of three menstrual cycles after nursing has been discontinued before having refractive surgery.

—Patients with chronic dry eye may be ineligible, as LASIK surgery has the potential to dramatically worsen the condition. Dry eye after LASIK is a common side effect, affecting more than 50 percent of patients.

—Patients with an underlying eye condition, like keratoconus, cataracts or glaucoma, are most likely ineligible for LASIK eye surgery vision correction.
—Serious health conditions like autoimmune disorders and diabetes will likely rule a patient out as a candidate. Similarly, any condition that could inhibit proper healing might affect eligibility.

At Limberg LASIK, our goal is to help patients be satisfied with their vision. One of the ways we achieve this is by providing our patients with accurate and helpful information so they can make good decisions about LASIK procedures.

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LASIK is a widely-performed, effective medical procedure but there are risks involved. 

LASIK FAQs provides answers to many questions that include LASIK consultations, risks, and side effects.

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