Corneal refractive surgery uses multiple techniques to change the curvature of the cornea and thus correct myopia, hyperopia, or astigmatism. Photorefractive keratectomy (PRK) was first approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1995 with use of an excimer laser, a form of UV laser that reshapes the cornea through photoablation. Early limitations of PRK included postoperative pain and delayed recovery of vision.
These limitations led to the development and approval of laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis (LASIK) in 1999. In the LASIK procedure, the corneal curvature is altered underneath a partial thickness flap made either with a microkeratome blade or an ultrafast infrared laser. Both LASIK and PRK have had very high success rates (99.5% and 99%, respectively) as measured by visual acuity without spectacle or contact lens correction at 6 months and by patient satisfaction.1 However, the study of quality-of-life measures has been somewhat limited, and despite the high rates of success, some patients have complained of long-term visual problems occurring by 1 year after refractive surgery.
Sugar A, Hood CT, Mian SI. Patient-Reported Outcomes Following LASIKQuality of Life in the PROWL Studies. JAMA. 2017;317(2):204-205. doi:10.1001/jama.2016.19323