ASA / PRK Eye Surgery

LASIK Alternative | Cavanaugh Eye Center in Kansas City

Photorefractive keratectomy (PRK) is a procedure similar to LASIK that corrects farsightedness, nearsightedness, and astigmatism. PRK, also called advanced surface ablation (ASA), is a proven LASIK alternative. Patients who may be better candidates for ASA/PRK are:

  • People who have thin, steep, or irregular corneas, large pupils, certain prescriptions, uncontrolled dry eyes (despite treatment) or other corneal issues
  • Those who have had an early version of laser vision correction who now need additional correction
  • Service members who have been told they cannot undergo a LASIK procedure

ASA/PRK differs from LASIK in that initial recovery takes longer and there is a period of mild discomfort and blurry vision for approximately three to five days as the eyes heal. Cavanaugh Eye Center offers ASA/PRK for those patients where it is a safer choice. Long-term outcomes are similar between LASIK and ASA/PRK and the same excimer laser is used for both treatments. This allows patients optimal customization of their procedure. Like LASIK, both Wavefront Optimized and CONTOURA® custom treatment options are available for ASA/PRK patients.

Your first step is to schedule a refractive consultation appointment with Dr. Cavanaugh or Dr. Jaynes and one of our highly-trained surgical counselors. We at Cavanaugh Eye Center are among the most experienced PRK providers in the Kansas City metropolitan area. We can help you decide if ASA/PRK is right for you following a complete refractive consultation.

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What are the Benefits of ASA/PRK?

ASA/PRK is not for everyone, but if you are a good candidate, there are plenty of benefits. Here are a few reasons why Cavanaugh Eye Center provides this life-changing procedure: a couple looking down at a map

  • The procedure has very good long-term outcomes, similar to those seen with LASIK.
  • It is a proven, effective solution for people who are not good candidates for LASIK (thin corneas, uncontrolled dry eyes, other corneal conditions).
  • PRK gives people the freedom to take part in activities they love, such as contact sports, reading, swimming, and hobbies without having to worry about glasses or contact lenses.
  • Very little time off is needed. Most people are back to work or doing activities they enjoy in just a few days.
  • It is a more affordable option than years of paying the costs of glasses or contacts. Plus, with financing options available, the cost can often be spread out into affordable monthly payments.
  • It is common for patients to have 20/20 vision or better—without glasses or contacts—following recovery.
  • There is no corneal flap created with ASA/PRK surgery, which reduces the possibility of complications.
  • There is no risk of tearing or damaging a flap at any point in the future following an ASA/PRK procedure. This is particularly good news for people in the military or who enjoy contact sports.


Like LASIK, PRK reshapes the cornea to dramatically improve vision. The main difference between PRK and LASIK is how the cornea is accessed.

In LASIK, a hinged flap is created in the middle layer of the cornea and the flap is folded back to expose the corneal layers underneath, which are reshaped with the laser.

In PRK, no flap is created. Instead, the thin layer of protective skin that covers the cornea, called the epithelial layer, is gently removed. Then, an excimer laser—the same laser used in LASIK—is used to precisely and effectively reshape your cornea, giving you better vision.

Because the thin epithelial layer is removed altogether during PRK, it does take a few days to grow back, which makes the recovery time longer when compared to LASIK. During that time, approximately three to five days, many people report that they feel some discomfort similar to having a mild foreign body sensation. Preservative-free artificial tears, prescribed post-operative medications and pain relievers typically provide significant relief.

Cavanaugh Eye Center is one of a select few refractive surgery centers in the United States to use our own laser center to provide LASIK and several LASIK alternatives, including ASA/PRK.

Our experienced laser eye surgeons invest themselves in providing the priceless gift of natural, clear vision. Our trained technicians will conduct a series of diagnostic tests using some of the most modern and thorough technology available today. These tests, as well as information about your general health and lifestyle, will provide Dr. Cavanaugh or Dr. Jaynes with the information they need to determine which, if any, laser vision correction procedure is best for your unique eyes.

What to Expect During PRK Eye Surgery

Cavanaugh Eye Center’s state-of-the-art laser facility enables us to complete your ASA/PRK procedure within a short period of time. Plan to be at Cavanaugh Eye Center for about two hours on the day of your procedure. Be sure to arrange for a ride home following your procedure, as your vision will be less than optimal for driving immediately afterward. You can wear relaxed and comfortable clothing for your procedure.

While being prepared for PRK eye surgery, you’ll receive anesthetic eye drops so that you can remain comfortable during the procedure. You may also be given something to calm your nerves, as it is completely normal to be nervous during any vision correction procedure.

As you lie back on our laser bed, a small lid holder will be gently placed around your eyelids to keep you from blinking during the procedure.

You will see a green blinking light as you look straight ahead, and Dr. Cavanaugh and staff will talk you through each element of the procedure. Before you know it, the procedure will be complete and the healing can begin. A special contact lens will be placed in your eye by Dr. Cavanaugh to protect your cornea as it heals.

Before you go home, you will be given simple instructions and eye drops to use as your eyes heal. You’ll also have an opportunity to ask questions or express any concerns. We want you to feel comfortable and confident about what to expect in the coming days.

You can expect some discomfort and irritability for a few days, but within about a week, your vision will dramatically improve. In the meantime, our Cavanaugh Vision team will be just a phone call away.

woman's eye close up

Is PRK Permanent?

During ASA/PRK, your cornea is reshaped. Those changes are permanent. However, the lens, located in the back of the eye, undergoes its own changes as we age. This is called presbyopia, or “over 40 vision.” Presbyopia is the main reason most of us need reading glasses after a certain age. These changes are the beginning of what eventually becomes cataracts.

PRK does nothing to or for the lens of the eye. In fact, they are completely different structures found in different locations. Presbyopia will still likely cause vision changes as you get older, and you may eventually need a separate procedure for presbyopia, or even cataract surgery.

The good news is that ASA/PRK does nothing to hinder procedures that correct presbyopia or cataracts. It also does not affect any treatments for diseases of the eye, such as glaucoma or macular degeneration.

Financing Your PRK Eye Surgery

There are several payment options available to cover the cost of ASA/PRK

Comprehensive Fees

At Cavanaugh Eye Center, we believe clear, natural vision should be accessible to as many people as possible. We partner with CareCredit to provide low monthly payment options that fit nearly any budget. You can also opt to use FSA or HSA flex-spending accounts, both of which use pre-tax dollars. Refractive surgery, such as PRK, is not typically covered by insurance, however, we work with insurance companies for patients with a policy benefit.

Our refractive consultations are complimentary. The cost of PRK is a global fee, meaning the cost includes your preoperative examination, surgeon fee, operating room charges, surgical supplies, and all of your post-operative visits related to the procedure for two years. Office visits unrelated to the procedure will be charged as usual.

Financial Policy

Refractive surgery is elective and is rarely ever covered by insurance. The patient is responsible for the fees and payment in full is required prior to the procedure or at check-in at the front desk on the day of surgery.

Payment Options

Payment in full is required at or before the time of service. We accept cash, check, Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express. We do not provide financing in-house for elective/refractive procedures however financing arrangements can be made through CareCredit. The CareCredit process is quick and efficient.

CareCredit to Cover the Cost of PRK Surgery

CareCredit offers a full range of payment plans so you can find one that works best for you. With the popular ‘Deferred Interest’ plans, there are no interest charges if you pay your balance in full within the specified time period. CareCredit offers 12, 18, or 24-month plan options with low monthly payments available. You apply via and your specific rates will depend on your credit rating. The process is simple and you will have a credit determination quickly. Our surgical counselors can provide you with information about CareCredit and help guide you through the process.

Kansas City PRK Eye Surgery

Ready to find out if ASA/PRK is right for you? Let the eye surgeons at Cavanaugh Eye Center in Kansas City determine which, if any, laser vision correction procedure is best for your unique eyes.

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