PRK Laser Eye Surgery
Photo-Refractive Keratectomy (PRK)
Are you considering vision correction, but are not sure what the best option might be? If you are nearsighted, farsighted or have astigmatism, LASIK and its alternative procedures can give you permanently clearer vision, possibly 20/20 or better. You will have little or no dependence on glasses or contact lenses.
That said, the next question is: should it be LASIK or one of the alternatives such as PRK? That is a decision you would make in discussions with your eye surgeon. It would largely depend on the nature of your eyes, especially the corneas (clear front part).
PRK can give you the same excellent results that LASIK offers. The laser reshaping of corneal curvature is done with the same excimer laser that is used in LASIK, and you can have PRK done with Wavefront technology and the superior treatment plan that gives you.
How PRK Works
Unlike LASIK and its other alternatives (epi-LASIK, LASEK, and IntraLase), PRK makes no corneal flap at the beginning. The excimer laser used in all laser vision correction does its reshaping work on the middle corneal layer, the stroma. It does not work on the corneal epithelium (surface layer) because that layer is unstable, continually discarding cells and replacing them.
To gain access to the stroma, surface tissue must somehow be removed and that is the reason for the LASIK corneal flap. It is cut very thin, folded back, and after reshaping is done, it is replaced.
In PRK, the thin surface layer is removed completely and after treatment it grows back. The corneal surface is tough and resilient and can heal itself well. Just as the LASIK flap heals easily by itself, with no stitches, so the epithelial tissue grows back by itself after PRK.
PRK Recovery Period
Immediately after your PRK procedure, you will be asked to keep your eyes closed for about 30 minutes. When your eye surgeon determines that it is safe for you to go home, it will be best to have someone drive you because at this early stage your vision will be a bit blurry.
You will have both moisturizing eyedrops and antibiotic eyedrops and your eye doctor will give you written instructions for how to use them and how to take care of yourself during recovery. If you feel any discomfort, an over-the-counter painkiller will take care of it. Lots of sleep will help speed your recovery.
Recovery takes a little longer for PRK than it does for LASIK. This is because the corneal surface cells that were removed must regrow. During the three to five days it takes for them to regrow, protective bandage contact lenses are worn. It is important that you do not rub your eyes or allow them to be bumped or hit by anything. Your eye surgeon may give you plastic shields to wear at night.
Advantages of PRK
Most LASIK complications are related to the corneal flap. By having no flap, PRK avoids them all and allows for a more straightforward recovery period.
PRK costs a little less than LASIK
It provides excellent laser vision correction for those who do not qualify for LASIK
To determine whether PRK is the best way for you to have laser vision correction, you would need to consult with an experienced eye surgeon. To find one near you, please send us an email.