PRK was one of the first laser techniques designed to treat visual defects. It is commonly done because it offers some advantages over LASIK for some patients.
Like LASIK and others types of laser eye surgery, the PRK technique reshapes the curve of the cornea with Excimer laser, allowing the light entering the eye to correctly focus on the retina for clear vision.
Who can be treated with PRK?
As with LASIK, most people myopia, hyperopia and/or astigmatism with adequate corneal thickness may undergo laser eye surgery with PRK, with the additional advantage that with PRK some patients who are not eligible for LASIK, due to a cornea too thin, can be treated.
On the other hand, this treatment is also usually recommended for athletes, sportsmen, and other professionals with high risks of eye trauma, because with PRK there is no risk of complications due to the corneal flap detachment in case of an accident.
Laser eye surgery with PRK has the following advantages:
- Lower laser treatment depth than LASIK
- Reduced risk of corneal thickness compromised.
- Suitable for patients with thin cornea who cannot be treated with LASIK.
- There is no risk of corneal “flap” complications.
As with LASIK, before the PRK, your ophthalmologist will perform a complete eye exam to determine is you are a suitable candidate for a refractive surgery treatment, including corneal shape and thickness, pupil size, refraction and other ocular conditions, eye moisture.
Of course, for PRK your ophthalmologist will also take into account your general health history and any medications you may take.
And If you wear contact lenses, your will need to stop using them for a period of time before your eye exam and before surgery.
PRK is an ambulatory treatment, and only takes about 15 minutes. Similar to LASIK surgery, anesthetic eye drops are applied to your eyes and the surgeon program the excimer laser for the personalized treatment of your eye.
However, in PRK surgery a corneal “flap” is not created, instead of that, the thin outer layer of the cornea called epithelium is removed and discarded (it regenerates later, in a few days)
Once the epithelium has been removed, an excimer laser is used to precisely reshape the curvature of the surface of the cornea.
At the end of the PRK, your surgeon covers the cornea treated with a “bandage” contact lens, to protect the cornea, while the epithelial cells of the surface of the eye regenerate, after a few days such contact lens “bandage” is removed.
You will be asked to rest a little after the PRK, and then you can go home.
Your surgeon will prescribe you topical antibiotics, anti-inflammatory and analgesic antibiotics to reduce post-operative discomfort and speed healing. Of course, follow your doctor’s instructions after surgery to ensure the best results. After PRK, you will need to attend to frequent follow-up appointments over the next few weeks to monitor the healing process and improve your vision.
Keep in mind that recovery with PRK is slower than with LASIK, it takes several weeks until vision is completely stable and clear.