A new review of recent studies suggests two popular laser-assisted surgeries to correct nearsightedness are equally effective at restoring 20/20 vision six months to a year after the surgery.
LASIK (laser-assisted in-situ keratomileusis) and PRK (photorefractive keratectomy) both use a laser to reshape the eye's cornea, which helps to focus incoming light, in people with nearsightedness.
According to experts, LASIK patients tend to recover their vision faster than PRK patients, which may be part of the reason their number has grown rapidly since the late 1990s.
LASIK patients also report less pain after surgery than PRK patients, although they tend to be more uncomfortable during the actual surgery, the researchers found.
Patients also might prefer these "side effects" associated with LASIK, but "none of the individual studies included in this review demonstrated a significant [vision] advantage for either treatment.
LASIK would be best for one patient and PRK would be best for another patient, it really depends on individual patient factors, such as the thickness of tissues in the eye and severity of the nearsightedness, said Melissa Bailey, Ph.D., an optometrist at the Ohio State University College of Optometry.
In their review of six high-quality studies comparing LASIK and PRK, experts found no significant difference in the number of eyes regaining 20/20 "perfect" vision six to 12 months after each type of surgery, regardless of how severe the nearsightedness was before surgery. The studies involved a total of 417 eyes, 201 treated with PRK and 216 treated with LASIK, with some participants having surgery only on one eye, or some having each eye treated with the different procedures.
It is important that patients are informed about and understand the effectiveness, limitations, safety, complications and relative merits of these procedures.