LASIK & PRK Frequently Asked Questions

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What Is LASIK? 

LASIK (laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis) is a laser eye surgery to correct vision problems, including nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism.  

What Is PRK? 

PRK (photorefractive keratectomy) is also a laser eye surgery that produces clearer vision.  

How Does LASIK Work? 

LASIK includes using a laser to reshape the clear outer portion of your eye (cornea). It changes the way light focuses on your eye’s “image processor.” This makes your vision clearer. 

LASIK vs PRK — What’s the Difference? 

These laser eye surgeries are similar. The FDA approved PRK about 5 years before LASIK. PRK typically includes a longer recovery time. Most people choose LASIK, but PRK may be a better option for patients with thinner corneas. Read more about LASIK and PRK surgeries

Is LASIK Safe? 

The FDA approved LASIK in 1999. Since then, more than 10 million people have undergone the surgery in the U.S. Complications are rare. A few side effects, like dry eye, are fairly common. They’re usually easy to treat and temporary.  

Does LASIK Hurt? 

Your surgeon will give you numbing eyedrops before surgery, so you won’t feel anything during the procedure. You may have some mild discomfort for a day or two after. 

Can I Have Laser Eye Surgery on Both Eyes at the Same Time? 

Yes. Most people choose to do both eyes at the same time. 

Will I Still Need Glasses? 

More than 90% of people who get laser eye surgery achieve 20/20 vision or better. Some people choose to wear glasses after surgery for certain activities like reading or driving at night. 

How Long Does LASIK Last? 

LASIK lasts about 10 years on average. That means your vision doesn’t change within that time. 

Many peoples’ vision gets worse as they get older, especially after age 40. This happens even after laser eye surgery. 

That’s why LASIK is typically recommended for people ages 21-39. 

How Much Does LASIK Cost? 

Both LASIK and PRK cost $2,500 per eye at UVA Health. 

Does Insurance Cover LASIK? 

Most health insurance plans don’t cover laser eye surgery.  

Who Shouldn’t Get Laser Eye Surgery? 

Your glasses or contacts prescription should be stable for 1 year before you have surgery.  

These surgeries may not be good options if you have: 

  • Persistent dry eye 

  • Glaucoma 

  • Cataracts 

  • Thin corneas 

  • Diabetes 

You also shouldn’t get laser eye surgery while pregnant or breastfeeding. 

In some cases, our eye care specialists can treat your eye issue or infection to help you get ready for surgery.  

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