• A surface treatment to correct shortsight, longsight and astigmatism
  • An option in those with thin corneas
  • Useful in those with corneal scars
  • Useful for low levels of correction
  • Longer recovery
  • Can be uncomfortable

At Centre for Sight, PRK or LASEK is only performed in exceptional circumstances (e.g. if there is an abnormality of the corneal epithelium, scarring or surface irregularity). Because of pain, delayed visual recovery, risk of haze and overall patient satisfaction we are not overly enthusiastic about this procedure.

We do not routinely use toxic anti-scarring drugs like Mitomycin C, frequently used without patient knowledge by advocates of PRK, LASEK or Epi-LASIK. Mictomycin C is an anti-cancer agent and can denature DNA potentially causing major problems. It is classed as a radio-mimetic, in other words like radiotherapy. Its effect is cumulative and irreversible.

LASEK (Laser-Assisted Sub-Epithelial Keratectomy) is a derivative of Photorefractive Keratectomy (PRK) whereby the epithelium is loosened with 20% alcohol. In LASEK epithelium is dislodged and put to one side (instead of being discarded) and then replaced after the excimer laser treatment. It has been suggested that LASEK is less painful than PRK and less likely to produce long-term haze. This has not been proven to be true, and certainly not in our experience at Centre for Sight. But the procedure is popular, especially in centres on the high street.

Both PRK and LASEK are more painful than LASIK or IntraLASIK eye surgery, and visual recovery can take a few days to a week, compared to only one day with IntraLASIK.

LASEK can be very uncomfortable afterwards. LASEK can be performed on both eyes on the same day, but you will not be able to work or function properly for up to a week.

Author Information

Authored by Sheraz Daya MD FACP FACS FRCS(Ed) FRCOphth, Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon & Medical Director, June 2019.

Next review due June 2020.