PRK, or Photorefractive Keratectomy, used to be the most common refractive surgery procedure prior to the advent of LASIK. PRK was the first procedure to use an excimer laser to treat many types of refractive errors, including nearsightedness (myopia), farsightedness (hyperopia) and astigmatism. It is still the procedure of choice for certain patients.
PRK differs most from LASIK during the first step of the procedure. In PRK, after applying anesthetic eye drops, your doctor will first remove the thin protective layer of tissue that covers the cornea, called the epithelium. Next, an excimer laser applies a cool beam of light, which gently reshapes the surface of the cornea, allowing images to be more sharply focused by the retina, correcting the refractive error. After the cornea is reshaped, the epithelium is allowed to grow back naturally, which typically takes 3 to 5 days.
Pain during surgery is non-existent, however most patients will experience some discomfort following surgery. Any discomfort usually subsides within 3 to 5 days and can be treated with pain medications. Immediately following your procedure, your vision will be blurry, but will steadily improve thereafter.
Most patients achieve 20/20 vision with PRK.
PRK can be a viable option over LASIK due to the following:
- A long history of very effective results
- Eliminates flap-related complications
- Works better for patients with thin, irregular or scarred corneas
- Is preferred for patients with large pupils
Ideal PRK candidates should be at least 18 years of age and have had a stable eye prescription for at least one year. Patients with dry eyes, cataracts and degenerative or autoimmune diseases are not good candidates.
Risks & Complications:
As with any surgical procedure, there are certain risks involved in undergoing PRK, including:
- Reaction to the anesthesia
- Over- or under-correction
- Night glare or halos
- Light sensitivity
- Corneal haze
Many of these risks can be prevented completely, or if they occur, are treatable and temporary. The vast majority of patients who undergo PRK experience only the advantages as a result. Please contact us with any questions or concerns you may have regarding PRK.