Medically Reviewed by: Dr. David Evans

female patient sittting in doctor's office reading an eye chart

Has your surgeon told you that you are not a good candidate for LASIK? Or maybe you’ve looked into it but you’d rather have a procedure that doesn’t involve a deep corneal flap. Either way, you’re not alone. Each year, millions of patients undergo alternative laser vision correction procedures that are just as effective as LASIK.

If you have decided against LASIK, you might want to consider PRK, LASEK or Epi-LASIK. Check out the following introductory video, or read on to learn about how you can vastly enhance your lifestyle with one of these procedures.

Benefits of PRK, LASEK and Epi-LASIK

PRK, LASEK and Epi-LASIK, also known as surface ablation procedures, all offer the same principal benefit over LASIK: crystal-clear vision that is comparable to the vision you would get from LASIK, but without the potential complications of a deep corneal flap.

This is important if you engage in activities where the flap could get dislodged, such as martial arts or boxing. These procedures can also be a godsend if your corneas are too thin to have LASIK.

As with LASIK, you can look forward to the following from PRK, LASEK and Epi-LASIK:

  • Amazing results
  • Can be customized to your eyes with wavefront technology
  • Reasonably priced – around $2,000 per eye or more, if customized
  • Can be used to treat nearsightedness, farsightedness and/or astigmatism
  • Fast procedure time
  • Quick Recovery
  • No more glasses/contacts following the procedure

Studies have shown that results of all these procedures are comparable to LASIK results.

Are You a Candidate?

Even if you’ve been told that you are not a candidate for LASIK, you may be a good candidate for PRK, LASEK or epi-LASIK. However, as with LASIK you must be over the age of 21 to be eligible for surface ablation procedures. You also must have realistic expectations of the outcome, and you need to understand and accept that there are risks associated with these procedures.


As a general rule, it takes longer to recover from surface ablation procedures than it does from LASIK.  Don’t let this dissuade you — most patients see clearly within a week. However, it can take three to six months for you to reach your best vision, during which time your vision may fluctuate a bit.

You may recover more quickly and experience less discomfort from LASEK or epi-LASIK as compared to PRK.

Risks, Potential Complications

Surface ablation procedures share some of the same risks and potential complications of LASIK, namely dry eye, under-correction, over-correction and night vision problems such as glare and halos around lights.

Your risk of experiencing infection, glare and/or scarring may be slightly higher with surface ablation procedures than with LASIK. In addition, the healing process is less predictable.

However, your odds of experiencing a side effect called ectasia are even lower with surface ablation procedures than they are with LASIK.


The cost of PRK, LASEK and epi-LASIK is similar to the cost of LASIK: around $2,000 or more per eye if you have your procedure customized.

None of these procedures are covered by insurance, but you can defray the cost if your employer offers a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) of Health Savings Account (HSA), both of which allow you to put aside pre-tax dollars to pay for medical expenses. Ask your human resources representative if your company offers one of these programs.

There are also a number of financing options available to you. For more information on financing your procedure, contact a qualified refractive surgeon in your area.