PRK (Photo Refractive Keratectomy)
PRK is an outpatient laser eye surgery procedure that is approved for treatment of a very wide range of nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. PRK was the first refractive surgical procedure to utilize the excimer laser to change the curvature of the cornea to improve vision. PRK is the treatment of choice for patients with epithelial basement membrane disorder or recurrent erosions as well as other conditions such as corneal thickness wall issues or prior RK surgery.
How is PRK Laser Eye Surgery different than LASIK?
Computer-driven for accuracy and precision, PRK reshapes the surface of the cornea using beams of ultraviolet light from an excimer laser. PRK uses the same excimer laser as LASIK, but the procedure is performed on the corneal surface rather than internally. Instead of creating a flap, as in LASIK, the outer most layer of the cornea (epithelium) is removed and the laser is used on the surface corneal tissue. This microscopic re-shaping of the surface of the cornea improves the way light is focused or “refracted” by the eye.
To assist healing after surgery, a clear bandage contact lens is placed over the cornea to make the patient more comfortable during the three to five days needed for the epithelium to re-grow. Additionally, PRK patients are prescribed a regimen of eye drops throughout the first month of healing, requiring monitoring by their doctor on a weekly and/or monthly basis.
Like LASIK, PRK only takes about a minute per eye, with minimal discomfort. There is typically a little discomfort during the healing process for PRK, and it takes a bit more time for the patient to see clearly, but the eventual outcome for LASIK and PRK is the same. Most patients are able to return to most normal daily activities two to three days following the PRK procedure, with best visual acuity achieved in approximately four to six weeks.