Photorefractive keratectomy (PRK), also known as advanced surface ablation, is a refractive procedure that ultimately produces results identical to those of LASIK. The primary difference between PRK and LASIK is that PRK does not create a corneal flap as a surgical step, whereas LASIK does. The primary difference is that LASIK has a very short recovery time (days) compared to that of PRK (a few weeks).
We still perform PRK frequently for a few reasons. Some people who are not good candidates for LASIK are in fact good candidates for PRK. Patients with cornea curvature that is either too steep or too flat could compromise their corneal integrity if a flap were made, thus PRK is a good alternative to LASIK for such patients. Furthermore, people with careers or hobbies that may put them at higher risk for contact with the eye – athletes, martial artists, boxers, etc. – should have PRK rather than LASIK to negate the risk of corneal flap displacement. People who may experience unusual pressures on the eye, like divers or pilots, may also prefer PRK.
As previously stated, the end result of PRK is the same as LASIK but it takes a bit longer to get there for PRK patients. This procedure is, like LASIK designed to reduce or eliminate the need for glasses or contact lenses, and the goal is 20/20 vision or better.