PRK, which stands for photorefractive keratectomy, is a type of refractive eye surgery that is used to correct mild to moderate nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism through the use of a laser. When the laser is directed over the eye, our ophthalmologist can change the shape of the cornea to alter how light is focused on the retina to improve vision. PRK can limit how often you need to wear glasses or contacts, or it could eliminate the need for them completely. Since the laser targets the surface of the eye directly to modify the shape of the cornea, PRK may be the better option for those patients with thinner corneas, irregular or scarred corneas, or a history of dry eye.
Getting Advanced PRK
Even with advanced PRK technology, it is important to understand what this procedure can and can’t do. This is why our ophthalmologist will discuss in detail your treatment goals as well as your lifestyle to determine whether PRK is a good option for you. PRK allows people to perform many of their everyday routines without resorting to contact lenses or glasses; however, there are certain tasks such as reading or driving, where you may still need your glasses.
If you’re deemed an ideal candidate for PRK, this procedure is performed right here in our office as a simple outpatient procedure, which means that you will be able to go home the very same day. The advanced PRK procedure only takes about 15 minutes. Eye drops will be placed in the eyes to numb them. Next, a special solution or brush is used to remove the epithelium, the outer layer of cells on the cornea. From there, you will be instructed to look at a light, which our eye doctor will use to shape the cornea. Once the procedure is complete, your doctor will place a protective contact lens over the eye.
Vision will not be perfect immediately after the procedure. During your healing time (7 days), it is common to experience blurriness, light sensitivity, dryness, and grittiness. As healing occurs, your vision will get better. It is recommended to rest for the first 2 days when both eyes are treated together and oral pain medication, as well as topical eye drops, will be given to keep you comfortable. Newer PRK techniques we now use have shortened the recovery time from some of the older methods. Your vision may slightly fluctuate over the next few weeks to months before optimal vision is reached.
Candidates for Advanced PRK
Patients who are ideal candidates for PRK will be at least 18 years old, have a stable eye prescription that hasn’t changed in a year and have healthy corneas. Those patients who lead an active lifestyle may be better candidates for PRK over LASIK surgery because PRK does not require making a micro-flap in the cornea, which could later become dislodged during certain intense physical activities.