PRK works by precisely reshaping the cornea using an excimer laser. This allows light entering the eye to focus properly on the retina, producing clear vision. During the procedure, the epithelium (the thin outer layer of your cornea) is removed before the laser is used to reshape your cornea. After the procedure is finished a “bandage” contact lens will be placed in your eye and your epithelium will repair itself within a few days.
PRK is a good choice for patients who wish to undergo laser eye surgery, but whose corneas may be too thin for LASIK. During LASIK, a corneal flap is created instead of removing the epithelium during the procedure.
To find out if PRK is right for you, request a consultation appointment today.
How is PRK Performed?
During your PRK procedure, your eye surgeon will first remove the central area of your corneal epithelium using an alcohol solution, as well as a blunt surgical instrument or a “buffering” device.
Next, your surgeon will use an excimer laser to carefully reshape the curvature of your cornea’s front surface. Excimer lasers are highly specialized, computer-controlled devices that use pulses of cool ultraviolet light to remove microscopic amounts of tissue in a precise pattern.
Once your cornea has been appropriately reshaped your surgeon will place a soft, clear “bandage” contact lens over your cornea to comfortably protect your eye during the healing process. Your epithelial cells will rejuvenate over the next three or four days, after which your optometrist will remove the bandage contact lens.
PRK’s Long-Term Results
PRK laser eye surgery has been performed since the early 1990’s and has a very high success rate. Since it was first performed this procedure has become more advanced, and remains the laser eye surgery of choice for many individuals.
Most patients are able to achieve 20/20 vision after PRK, and almost all patients achieve 20/40 visual acuity or better without glasses. However, some patients may need to continue to wear eyeglasses or contact lenses after the procedure for driving and/or reading, though their prescription will be considerably lower than it was before.
Some patients may experience a sensitivity to light, which can be treated by wearing sunglasses or glasses with photochromic lenses that darken when you go outside. If you experience any minor residual refractive error after the surgery, your optometrist may prescribe low-power prescription lenses with an anti-reflective coating, which can sharpen your vision during activities such as driving at night.
Postoperative complications from PRK are rare but can include infections and glare, with noticeable halos or starbursts around lights at night, particularly while driving.
You may require additional or enhancement surgery to further improve your vision, or to correct the gradual worsening of your eyesight over time. Additionally, you may still require reading glasses starting in your 40’s due to an age-related condition called presbyopia, which affects your near vision.