If you have nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism, you may be considering laser eye surgery to correct your vision. Two of the most common options are LASIK and PRK. While both procedures can achieve the goal of 20/20 vision (or better) in most patients, the differences lie in how they’re performed and what recovery entails. Here are some details about each option.

What Is LASIK?

LASIK stands for laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis The procedure is one of the most frequently performed elective procedures in the U.S., and is an effective surgery that can correct most forms of nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. During this 30-minute outpatient procedure, the surgeon will create a thin flap in your cornea — the clear outer layer of the eye that focuses light — using a laser or special device. Then, they’ll use a cool laser beam to reshape the surface of the cornea. The gently pulsating light beam is controlled by the surgeon to precisely remove a tiny amount of tissue, allowing images to come into sharper focus. Once the cornea has been reshaped, the flap will be repositioned.

Recovery from LASIK is quick, and many people begin to see clearly within several hours. Some patients experience burning in the eyes, but this typically only lasts for a few hours after the procedure. Your doctor will provide lubricating or medicated eye drops to address any irritation you may experience. While no eye surgery guarantees 20/20 vision, LASIK can significantly reduce the need for glasses or contact lenses, which is especially beneficial for people with active lifestyles. 

What Is PRK?

PRK stands for “photo-refractive keratectomy.” The procedure has been refined since it was first developed and is now referred to as ASA, or “advanced surface ablation,” by most vision experts. ASA is performed similarly to LASIK in that a laser is used to reshape the eye surface. This reshaping takes as little as one minute per eye for many patients, and the procedure is much quicker than LASIK overall because it doesn’t require the creation of a flap. 

Though procedure time is faster, healing from ASA requires more time than LASIK, as it involves removing the entire outer layer of your cornea. After ASA, your doctor will place a bandage contact lens over the area to promote healing and comfort, and you’ll receive medicated eye drops as well. The bandage contact will be removed two to three days after the procedure. Several follow-up visits will be required afterward to ensure proper healing, and it may take several weeks for full results to be achieved.

Which Is Right for You?

Both LASIK and ASA are considered to be equally effective for correcting vision. Serious side effects are rare for both procedures. The main difference between the two is the recovery time, which is far shorter for LASIK. People with thin corneas may not be eligible for LASIK, so may therefore wish to pursue ASA as an alternative.

If you’re considering laser eye surgery, turn to Eye Consultants of Atlanta. Our award-winning surgeons excel in laser eye surgery, using the most advanced technology and procedures to achieve the greatest possible outcomes for our patients. Request an appointment online or by calling 404-351-2020.