The chief difference between the two approaches is in the areas of pain and recovery time, the review found. Patients tend to recover their vision faster after LASIK treatment than those undergoing PRK, which may explain LASIK's popularity since the late 1990s. Post-surgical pain is reportedly less among LASIK patients than PRK patients, the researchers determined, although patient discomfort is more pronounced during LASIK surgery.
Notwithstanding these differences, the review found that "none of the individual studies included in this review demonstrated a significant [vision-correction] advantage for either treatment." The researchers, said Melissa Bailey, an optometrist at the Ohio State University College of Optometry, also found that LASIK would be better for some patients, while PRK would be better for others, depending on individual patient differences, such as how thick their eye tissues are and how severe their nearsightedness is.
In the review of the six studies, the scientists found that LASIK and PRK were equally successful in restoring 20/20 vision. Altogether, the studies involved surgeries on 417 eyes - 201 treated with PRK and 216 with LASIK. Some participants had surgery on only one eye, and some had both eyes treated, one with each of the two techniques.