PRK is a form of laser vision correction in which a laser eye surgeon removes the surface layer of the cornea (called the epithelium) and then reshapes the corneal bed with the laser in the same way as LASIK vision correction. This technique is usually used for people whose cornea may be too thin to safely allow for the creation of the corneal flap required for LASIK.
What is the difference between PRK and LASIK vision correction?
LASIK eye surgery involves creating a corneal flap and then restoring it after laser treatment. With PRK, there is no flap creation. The surgeon simply removes the outermost skin of the cornea called the epithelium, and then uses the laser to reshape the cornea in the same way as LASIK. This epithelial layer of skin that is removed takes three (3) to five (5) days to grow back. During this time the eyes are protected with contact lenses. There is a slightly longer healing period with PRK.
Why Do Some People Need and Choose PRK?
PRK may be used if your eye surgeon finds that you have thinner-than-average corneas, and there is not enough corneal thickness for a LASIK flap. “Soft” corneas have a greater chance to bend out of shape and are also not suitable for a LASIK flap. Therefore, PRK is the alternative. Someone may also choose PRK if their profession causes them to be at much greater risk of getting hit in the eye and causing flap movement (e.g. boxers, martial artists, wrestlers or patients more prone to blows to the face).
What are the Results of PRK Compared to LASIK?
The visual outcome is the same whether LASIK or PRK vision correction is performed. Both procedures are also equally safe. The only difference is that the healing time and the number of post-surgery visits with PRK.
Does PRK Hurt?
During surgery PRK does not hurt at all. Drops are used to numb your eyes. It takes less than five minutes for both eyes. It is easier to undergo than LASIK. Pain after PRK varies from patient to patient: a few patients experience only mild discomfort, the majority of patients experience moderate discomfort for the first three (3) to four (4) days, and a small minority experience a lot of pain. Many post-operative measures are established to reduce the risk of complications and to increase the ability for a successful recovery.