Photorefractive Keratectomy (PRK) is an elective outpatient laser vision correction procedure to improve vision and reduce or eliminate the need for eyeglasses or contact lenses. In PRK surgery, the laser surgeon uses the excimer laser to reshape the curvature of the eye for patients with nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism.
Prior to LASIK Eye Surgery, PRK surgery was the most commonly performed laser vision correction procedure. PRK differs from LASIK, in that the surgeon does not create a flap. PRK surgery is best suited for patients with thinner corneas, or with vocational or sports-related limitations where a corneal flap is contraindicated.
What Is Custom PRK?
Custom PRK surgery is a procedure that allows your surgeon to customize the conventional PRK procedure to your individual eyes. Custom PRK provides an additional level of data about your visual system using wavefront technology.
- The wavefront analyzer’s software performs complicated measurements and presents a visual representation of how light is bent by your eye for the surgeon to evaluate.
- Data from this process is transferred to the laser, which generates a treatment plan for your refractive error including both low and higher-order aberrations (visual imperfections).
- Treating a patient with the information taken from the wavefront analyzer can result in greater clarity of vision and fewer complaints of glare or night halos.
Your doctor will help you determine if you could benefit from the higher level of individualization that Custom PRK surgery may provide.
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How the PRK Procedure Works
Here’s how the PRK surgery procedure works:
- There are no scalpels or incisions with the PRK laser vision correction procedure.
- The laser is properly calibrated before your PRK procedure begins.
- An instrument is used to prevent blinking during the procedure.
- Anesthetic drops are applied to numb your eye and prevent discomfort.
- The protective surface layer (epithelium), which is too soft to hold the laser correction, is removed. The epithelium will regrow within five days.
- Your PRK surgeon then applies computer-controlled pulses of cool laser light to reshape the curvature of the eye. Deeper cell layers remain untouched.
The PRK laser vision correction process is completed in approximately five minutes. Upon completion, the surgeon places a clear bandage contact lens on the cornea to protect it and applies more eye drops. Since a layer about as slender as a human hair is typically removed, the cornea should maintain its original strength.
Often, both eyes are treated on the same PRK surgery day. However, your surgeon may decide to do only one eye at a time.
What to Expect with PRK
At TLC Laser Eye Centers, we discuss the risks of the surgery with you prior to your procedure. Proper pre-operative screening and testing is used to ensure that it is medically advisable for you to have PRK surgery. Diligent post-operative care helps to identify and address potential healing complications.
- PRK healing is slower and results in discomfort and compromised vision during the healing process
- Patients are seen daily following the procedure until the surface layer heals into place
- Patients do not typically see well enough to drive during this healing period
For more information on PRK surgery, visit our TLC LASIK blog.