Photorefractive keratectomy (PRK)—a precursor of LASIK eye surgery—is done to treat mild to moderate refractive vision problems: astigmatism, nearsightedness, and farsightedness. The main difference between the two procedures is that PRK involves removing only the outermost layer of the cornea (epithelium), which will naturally regenerate within several days.
If you’re tired of wearing contacts or eyeglasses but don’t qualify for LASIK eye surgery (because you have dry eyes or you participate in contact sports), PRK surgery may be a great option to discuss with your eye doctor.
Here are the basics of PRK surgery to help set your expectations for the procedure.
PRK surgery, while it predates LASIK surgery, is still widely used today for its benefits. These include the following:
- Significantly improved vision- up to 95 percent of people who underwent PRK surgery achieved 20/40 vision or better without wearing corrective lenses or eyeglasses; roughly 90 percent achieved 20/20 vision without corrective lenses or eyeglasses.
- Less structural damage – does not involve creating an incision in the cornea
- Does not disrupt the eye’s natural irrigation – lower risk of dry eye syndrome
Preparing for Your PRK Surgery
Your optometrist will first test your vision to ensure it has been stable and that you do not have other eye problems and then measure your pupil size and the thickness of your cornea to determine your eligibility for the procedure.
Once your eye doctor ascertains that you’re a candidate for PRK surgery, they will provide you with preoperative instructions. The procedure itself only takes about 5 minutes to complete, but it entails adequate preparation to help minimize your risk of complications. Your eye doctor will determine the minimum length of time you must not wear your contact lenses prior to your surgery.
You need to make prior transportation arrangements, so you have someone to drive you home after your surgery.
During the Surgery
Upon arriving at your doctor’s office for your PRK surgery, you will likely have to fill out any remaining paperwork. From there, your doctor will meet with you and carry out the procedure, which includes the following steps:
- Numbing your eyes with drops;
- Placing an eyelid holder to keep you from blinking;
- Removing the epithelium using an alcohol solution; and
- Instructing you to stare at a target light to keep your eyes from moving- Your ophthalmologist will then reshape your cornea using a precise, computer-controlled excimer laser. You will hear clicking sounds during the procedure.
After your surgery, your ophthalmologist will then put “bandage” contact lenses over your eyes to protect them and allow them to heal.
Your eye doctor will provide you with postoperative care instructions, which likely include the following:
- Taking time off from work and avoiding strenuous activities up to a week following your procedure, as these could slow the healing process;
- Taking medications to control the pain- Your doctor may give you prescription pain medications or pain-relieving eyedrops;
- Using your eye drops for up to a month or as prescribed by your eye doctor- Make sure to strictly follow this to ensure proper healing;
- Wearing sunglasses outdoors for as long as your doctor tells you- Sun exposure can cause corneal scarring after surgery and, consequently, vision complications.
Expect to experience blurry vision, mild discomfort, and sensitivity to light within the first 24 to 72 hours following surgery, but these should subside within a week.
Once your initial healing period is done, you will gradually notice an improvement in your vision over the next few months.
PRK Surgery in Coral Gables, Florida
At The Laser Center of Coral Gables, our board-certified eye specialists combine their experience and skills with advanced technology to deliver exceptional treatment outcomes. We offer laser-assisted eye surgeries and other innovative treatment methods to address a vast range of vision problems, helping scores of patients within the Miami-Dade County “see the future clearly.”