North County Laser Eye Associates


Over the past decade or so, LASIK has become nearly synonymous with laser eye surgery in the minds of the general public. LASIK is the most commonly performed laser vision correction procedure and, to be certain, the procedure that has been given the most media coverage. In the meanwhile, PRK – or photorefractive keratectomy – has become somewhat obscure, even though it was the first form of laser eye surgery made available to the public.

For many patients of North County Laser Eye Associates, our San Diego laser eye surgery center, PRK has been an absolute blessing that allowed them to achieve independence from their glasses and contact lenses. While not as popular or well-known as LASIK, PRK is, especially for patients with thin corneas or other conditions that preclude them from undergoing LASIK, an outstanding alternative.

At our practice serving all of San Diego, PRK and LASIK of the highest quality are both available to our patients. The only way to know which treatment is best suited to your case is to schedule a consultation and comprehensive eye exam at North County Laser Eye Associates, but a comparison of the two procedures can help you get an idea as to why a patient might choose one over the other.

The Differences between PRK and LASIK

Both PRK and LASIK involve the reshaping of the cornea with an excimer laser to improve vision. The most fundamental difference between the two procedures lies in how the cornea is accessed.

In PRK, the laser is applied directly to the cornea after the removal of some of the cells of its epithelium, or outermost layer, with a sterile brush. In LASIK, however, a flap is created in the outermost layer of the cornea; after the cornea has been reshaped, this flap is replaced, and it heals into place without sutures. Because LASIK does not require the removal of any of the cornea’s protective layer, it produces more immediate results and less overall discomfort.

All things equal, it might seem that LASIK is therefore the superior procedure, and in some cases, it is. However, for some patients of our practice in San Diego, LASIK is not a suitable option, particularly for those with insufficient corneal tissue to create a flap or with exceptionally high prescriptions. Many of the more common complications resulting from LASIK surgery can be traced back to problems with the corneal flap. These problems are eliminated entirely with PRK, making it an excellent solution for a wider range of candidates.

Recovery from PRK surgery is generally slower and more uncomfortable than with LASIK. That said, there is less risk of dry eye syndrome and hazy vision with PRK.

Similarities between PRK and LASIK

Aside from how the cornea is accessed during surgery, PRK and LASIK are extremely similar procedures that produce similarly excellent results. In both procedures, our surgeons can customize your procedure using Wavefrontâ„¢ technology to address both lower-order aberrations (flaws in the shape of the cornea that produce the common visual errors farsightedness, nearsightedness, and astigmatism) and higher-order aberrations that are unique to your eye. The careful screening process we employ at North County Laser Eye Associates ensures that you will be treated with the procedure most likely to rid you of your dependence on glasses and contacts and least likely to result in complications or the need for secondary surgery.

Learn More about PRK and LASIK

If you would like to learn more about PRK and LASIK, or to schedule a consultation to determine which procedure is better suited to you, please contact North County Laser Eye Associates today.