PRK is an acronym that stands for Photorefractive Keratectomy. “Photorefractive” means to use an excimer laser to sculpt an eyeglasses prescription, and “Keratectomy” means to alter the shape of the cornea.
Am a candidate for PRK or LASIK?
If there is an abnormality on the surface of the cornea, or if the cornea is thinner than average, PRK may be the refractive procedure of choice.
When the excimer laser is used to perform refractive surgery, the cornea is sculpted to adjust for the required glasses prescription. After surgery, there needs to be enough “thickness” to the cornea to maintain structural integrity. If the glasses prescription is large (the treatment ablation with remove more corneal tissue), or if the cornea is relatively thin (less corneal tissue to work with), PRK may be the best option.
How is PRK done?
The corneal surface is prepared by removing the epithelium (surface cells of the cornea). At LCC, this is done using a “no touch” approach with the excimer laser. Once the epithelium is removed, the laser treatment for the glasses prescription is performed. You would hear a buzzing noise during the treatment. There is no pain during the laser treatment. A bandage contact lens is placed on the surface of the eye, and then you are taken to see one of the nurses to explain the post op care and drops. Dr. Lane will see you himself the following day.
The eyes will be irritated and uncomfortable for 2-3 days as the corneal surface heals. The bandage lens is removed in about 1 week. It is important to know that PRK does take longer to heal than LASIK. It may take 2-4 months for the corneal surface to remodel, and provide the best possible vision.
What are the risks with PRK?
- Decentered ablation - very rare with modern excimer lasers
- Undercorrection or overcorrection of prescription (occurs about 2% of cases). An enhancement can be performed once the refraction is stable (usually around 3-4 months)
- Delayed healing - sometimes the corneal surface may take longer to heal than usual
- Corneal haze (scarring)
- Corneal Ectasia - a thinning problem of the cornea, which may require cross linking treatment