PRK Surgery

Photorephractive keratectomy (PRK) is a form of laser vision correction in which a laser eye surgeon removes the surface layer of the cornea (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 to five days to grow back. During this time, eyes are protected with contact lenses. There is a slightly longer healing period with PRK.

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Why do some people need 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 of bending out of shape and are also not suitable for the creation of a flap, like in the LASIK procedures. 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 main differences are the time it takes to heal and frequency of post-surgery visits.


Does PRK hurt?

PRK patients report nothing more than mild discomfort during PRK surgery, as drops are used to numb the eyes. In total, the procedure takes less than five minutes per eyes. Pain while recovering varies: Some experience a mild feeling of discomfort while others say it is moderately uncomfortable in the first three to four days. A small number of patients say the recovery process is very painful. However, there are many post-operative measures in place to help reduce the risk of complications and to ensure that the recovery process is successful.

After the surface layer of the cornea is removed, the surgeon will perform one of two PRK techniques: Standard PRK or Advanced Custom Wavefront PRK.