What is PRK?
Photorefractive Keratectomy (PRK) was the first laser vision correction technique and is a surgery similar to LASIK eye surgery that can correct certain eye conditions such as farsightedness, nearsightedness, and astigmatism. During this procedure, your Kleiman Evangelista Eye Centers surgeon will remove the thin, outer layer of the cornea called the epithelium (don’t worry it regenerates). Removing the outer layer allows your surgeon to access deeper layers of the cornea in order to reshape it using a computer-guided laser. The laser removes microscopic amounts of tissue to create the exact corneal contours needed to sharpen your vision. The whole process usually takes under 10 minutes per eye. PRK eye surgery is often seen as a LASIK alternative because it can be performed on patients who cannot have LASIK due to thin corneas. But PRK may be the best choice for you, even if you are a LASIK candidate.
PRK versus LASIK
The main difference between PRK eye surgery and LASIK eye surgery is how the surgeon accesses your cornea during the procedure. With LASIK, a thin flap is created on the surface of the cornea. With PRK, the thin outer layer of the cornea (the epithelium) is gently swabbed away to allow the surgeon to access the treatment area. This outer layer naturally regenerates after surgery. Due to the nature of the procedure, PRK recovery time is longer than LASIK and the results appear more gradually because the outer layer of the cornea needs time to regenerate. Vision improvements also typically take longer to stabilize. However, PRK is a safe and effective alternative for patients with thin corneas or other restrictions that may prevent them from qualifying for LASIK. The safety, outcomes, and predictability of PRK are very similar to LASIK.
Recovering from PRK Eye Surgery
Recovery time with PRK is typically longer than LASIK because the outer layer of the cornea must have time to regenerate following surgery. Patients are required to wear a protective bandage contact lens for 5-7 days while the tissue grows back and will use eye drops for a week following surgery to help with any discomfort.
Am I a PRK Candidate?
People with thin corneal tissue are usually good candidates for PRK eye surgery because the thin, outer layer of the cornea is swabbed away during the procedure. Patients who experience dry eye symptoms may also choose to opt for PRK instead of LASIK since the creation of a flap can worsen dry eye symptoms. PRK may also be a better option for people who are at higher risk of eye injury. Schedule an appointment with Kleiman Evangelista to find out if PRK might be the best option for you.
PRK is a great option for patients who have thinner corneal tissue and is a more conservative surgical option because there is no flap creation as in LASIK, thus eliminating any “flap risks” present with LASIK. PRK may also be the preferred option for patients who previously had LASIK eye surgery and need a “touch up” due to changing refractive error.