PRK (photorefractive keratectomy) was at one time the most common laser eye surgery performed. It uses the same excimer laser as the LASIK procedure to reshape the outer cornea to correct nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. While LASIK is the more commonly performed procedure, PRK offers the same visual results for those patients who cannot undergo LASIK surgery.
Reasons to Consider PRK:
- Desire to reduce or eliminate dependence on eyeglasses or contact lenses
- Cornea too thin or atypical for LASIK
- Nearsightedness (myopia)
- Farsightedness (hyperopia)
- Astigmatism (irregularly-shaped cornea)
During the procedure, the surgeon first administers a local anesthetic via eye drops so that the patient does not feel pain during the surgery. An eyelid speculum is then placed over the eye to prevent the patient from blinking. Next, the surgeon gently removes the epithelial (superficial skin) cells from the outer layer of the cornea. Next, the excimer laser, custom programmed with the patient's eye, reshapes the corneal tissue with quick pulses of concentrated light. This process usually takes less than one minute. Once this is complete, the doctor places a bandage contact lens on the eye and the surgery is complete.
The patient may go home shortly after the procedure, however, someone else must drive or alternative transportation must be arranged. Patients will be asked to rest the majority of the first few days, avoiding any strenuous activities, and avoiding rubbing the eye area for a period of time. There is a follow-up appointment with the surgeon the day after the procedure and then four to five days following the procedure for removal of the bandage contact lenses. Most patients are able to resume regular activities approximately three days following the surgery although it may take up to one to three months to achieve their optimal vision. The final visual outcome is comparable to the results achieved with LASIK surgery.