PRK is a type of laser eye treatment that corrects nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism and can offer advantages over LASIK for some patients.
Both LASIK and PRK use a laser to reshape the inner cornea for vision correction. However, in LASIK surgery, a thin flap is created and lifted back before the laser reshapes the cornea. With PRK, a laser removes the outer layer of the cornea before the inner cornea is reshaped for vision correction.
The difference in procedure can make PRK laser treatment a better option for those with thin corneas who cannot spare tissue for flap creation. PRK may also be a better option for those whose occupations may involve trauma to the eye such as law enforcement officers, military personnel, martial artists, etc.
The disadvantage to PRK is that the recovery time takes longer than LASIK, because it takes some time for new cells to regenerate and cover the surface of the eye.
There is a variation of PRK, called LASEK, which uses a solution of alcohol to loosen the outer layer (surface cells). The eye surgeon can remove the outer layer and then replace it once the reshaping of the cornea is complete.
In both PRK and LASEK, a bandage contact lens is applied after surgery to speed healing.