Photorefractive keratectomy (PRK) is a type of refractive surgery. Similar to LASIK, the procedure corrects your vision by reshaping the cornea. The predecessor to LASIK, PRK takes somewhat longer to recover from. However, it offers distinct advantages over LASIK for some patients, and it is still a commonly performed procedure. The vast majority of patients experience exceptional improvement in their vision after PRK, with many achieving 20/20 vision. Our specialist in refractive surgery, Dr. Jeffrey Minkovitz, participated in the early research on PRK prior to its approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and has been offering this surgery since its approval in 1996. Contact us to find out whether this life-changing procedure is right for you.
PRK candidates are patients who wish to correct myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), or astigmatism (distorted vision at all distances). The goal is to reduce or eliminate dependence on eyeglasses and contact lenses. Because the recovery time is slightly longer than LASIK, PRK is generally recommended for patients who are not good candidates for LASIK. For example, patients who have thin corneas, large pupils, or have undergone prior eye surgery. PRK typically produces a better result for those patients, with a final outcome that is comparable to LASIK.
Both PRK and LASIK use the sophisticated excimer laser to sculpt the stromal layer of the cornea, correcting refractive errors. The sculpting process reshapes the cornea in a way that allows light to properly focus on the retina, resulting in clear vision.
During the procedure, Dr. Minkovitz will first numb your eyes with anesthetic drops. Next, the cornea’s outermost layer, called the epithelium, will be gently removed to allow the deeper tissue to be accessed. He will next use the laser to precisely reshape the cornea to the exact specifications determined by careful preoperative testing. Most patients do not feel any discomfort, but may feel some mild pressure on the eye. Once the cornea has been reshaped, a special type of contact lens will be placed over the eye to provide comfort and protection while the epithelium grows back. The entire process takes only about 15 minutes.
Immediately after surgery, you will rest for a short period of time before having someone take you home. Dr. Minkovitz will provide post-operative instructions, which you should follow carefully to ensure optimum results. You will be given topical antibiotics, anti-inflammatory medication, and pain medication to minimize any discomfort and aid healing. The epithelial cells will begin to grow back within days, and the bandage contact will be removed. However, it will take about one to two weeks for vision to be noticeably improved. To monitor your healing and recovery, Dr. Minkovitz will see you for follow-up appointments over the next several weeks.
Besides being useful for patients who would not be suitable for LASIK, PRK has some additional benefits over LASIK. Because no flap is created, there is no risk of flap complications, such as dislocation in rough work or other activities (things that might lead, for example, to getting poked in the eye). Further, PRK does not reach the same depth during laser treatment as LASIK, and the risk of removing too much of the cornea during the laser reshaping is also reduced.
Risks and Complications
Compared with LASIK, recovery time is slower, and optimal vision takes longer to obtain. Both PRK and LASIK complications can include infection, light sensitivity, dry eye, and overcorrection or undercorrection. Treatment with either technique can also result in glare or seeing halos around lights. This is especially noticeable at night, and can require extra caution while driving. The vast majority of patients feel that the benefits of refractive surgery outweigh potential side effects.
Learn More During a Consultation
Choosing an experienced eye surgeon will reduce your risk of complications and ensure your satisfaction in your post-operative results. For more than three decades, our eye care center has been providing state-of-the-art vision treatments for our valued patients. We are also proud to offer no-interest financing plans to help cover the cost of PRK and other refractive surgeries. To schedule a consultation and learn more about whether PRK is right for you, contact our friendly, professional staff today.