PRK and Butterfly LASEK: Prospective, Randomized, Contralateral Eye Comparison of Epithelial Healing and Ocular Discomfort

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To compare corneal reepithelialization, pain scores, ocular discomfort, and tear production after photorefractive keratectomy (PRK) and butterfly laser epithelial keratomileusis (LASEK).


This prospective, randomized, double-masked study comprised 102 eyes of 51 patients who underwent laser refractive surgery. Each patient was randomized to have one eye operated on with PRK and the other with butterfly LASEK. Patients were followed for 1 year.


The mean reepithelialization time in the PRK group was 4.35±0.48 days (range: 4 to 5 days) and 4.75±0.72 days (range: 4 to 6 days) in the butterfly LASEK group (P<.002). Pain scores and ocular discomfort were not statistically different between groups, although a trend towards a lower pain level with PRK was noted (3.31±4.09 vs 4.43±4.27; P=.18). Schirmer test values were significantly reduced from preoperative levels through 12 months with both PRK (23.6±8.1 vs 19.4±10.1; P<.002) and butterfly LASEK (22.4±8.7 vs 18.9±9.7; P=.01); however, no difference between groups was noted at any time.


Photorefractive keratectomy showed a modest but statistically significant shorter reepithelialization time and a tendency towards lower pain scores than butterfly LASEK. The reepithelialization time was strongly associated with the duration of surgery in both techniques. A similar reduction of Schirmer test values was observed up to 1 year postoperatively in both groups.

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