Photorefractive keratectomy or PRK is a refractive surgery that is used to correct both near and farsightedness and can also be used for astigmatism. The PRK approach was one of the first types of treatments to offer patients clear vision without the use of contact lenses or glasses. PRK is even the predecessor to LASIK.
While LASIK is a very common surgery approach, PRK continues to be widely used and offers patients many advantages that LASIK doesn’t.
• The laser does not have to cut as deeply as the LASIK approach
• PRK can be used for patients with a thin cornea
• There is no risk of complications from surgical treatment of the corneal flap
• PRK offers a reduced risk of compromised corneal thickness.
How the Procedure Differs from LASIK
LASIK and PRK primarily differ in the initial stages of the treatment. LASIK makes an incision and creates a corneal flap. This incision is made with a femtosecond laser. The corneal flap is then lifted to expose the cornea, and the LASIK procedure is completed, and the flap is replaced.
In contrast, PRK removes the thin outer layer of the cornea and discards this tissue. The underlying corneal tissue is then reshaped with an excimer laser (the same laser used for LASIK). There is no flap to replace over the cornea, but over the course of the next few days, that tissue will repair and regrow.
Outcomes from PRK
During the first few days, it is critical for patients to practice good hygiene and avoid any foreign objects into the eye and wear the protective “bandage contact” you receive from your surgeon. While the corneal layer is growing, the eye is more susceptible to infection. During this time, some objects may appear hazy, but this issue is resolved after the corneal layer has been replaced. Patients may not know the full results of the surgery until a few weeks later.
Understanding the Process
PRK is a relatively quick procedure, taking only around 15 minutes for both eyes and is completed on an outpatient basis. Your surgeon will begin the process by removing the central portion of the cornea with an alcohol solution and a buffing device. The buffing device is simply a blunt surgical tool.
Once this portion of the cornea has been removed, the excimer laser can be used to reshape and properly form the cornea. The laser is computer-controlled and delivers short pulses of cool ultraviolet light that remove tiny amounts of tissue in a specific pattern. The computer-guided laser will be able to properly shape the cornea again.
Once the cornea is properly shaped, your surgeon will place a contact over the eye to act as a bandage. It takes about four or five days for the epithelial cells to grow, at which point your doctor can then remove the contact.
In just a few more days, you will have a follow-up visit with your doctor to ensure that everything has properly healed and to test your vision. Once your eyesight has been tested by your doctor, you can also have your driver's license changed to remove the lens restriction if you previously had one. At this point, you can legally drive without glasses because you will be able to more clearly see the world around you.
If you have been considering a vision correction surgery, contact us today and schedule a FREE consultation in Olathe or Leawood. At Grin Eye Care, our patients come first, so our experienced and friendly staff will review your medical history and help you choose which approach is the best for you.