Photorefractive Keratectomy (PRK) May Be a Good Option for Patients Who Don’t Qualify for LASIK

July 9th, 2019

Photorefractive keratectomy is a “flap-free” vision correction procedure that serves as a trusted alternative to LASIK. Find out whether you’re a good candidate.

Photorefractive keratectomy (PRK) is a vision correction procedure that uses lasers to reshape the cornea. However, unlike the more common LASIK, PRK is a “flap-free” procedure, and therefore may be a better option for patients with irregular corneas or dry eyes. The first approved laser eye surgery, PRK delivers results similar to LASIK, though it may require a slightly longer recovery time.

If you’re suffering from myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), or astigmatism, PRK can help you see the world more clearly without the hassle of glasses or contact lenses. Here’s what patients need to know about this safe and effective vision correction procedure.

How Does PRK Work?

During PRK, an ophthalmologist uses an excimer laser to reshape the cornea (the clear outer surface of the eye). Instead of creating the “flap” used in LASIK surgery, PRK removes the thin outer layer of the cornea (epithelium), allowing the surgeon to access the underlying tissue. An advanced, computer-controlled laser is then used to precisely modify the curvature of the cornea. The epithelium typically repairs itself within a few days of the surgery.

PRK is a quick procedure, taking just 15 minutes for both eyes, meaning you’ll be able to have the surgery and walk out of your eye doctor’s office on the same day. Patients remain awake during the procedure, but may be given a mild sedative to induce relaxation. Most people do not feel any pain or discomfort, with the exception of mild pressure on their eyes.

To allow the epithelium cells to regrow, your ophthalmologist will place a soft contact lens on your cornea. This protective bandage is generally removed after four or five days. While it may take longer for your eyes to heal and your vision to improve after undergoing PRK than after undergoing LASIK, the results of both procedures are similar. In fact, about 90% of PRK recipients enjoy 20/20 vision without glasses or contacts one year after their surgery.

Who Is a Good Candidate for PRK?

PRK is often recommended for patients whose corneas are irregular or too thin for LASIK, or for those who have chronic dry eye. The procedure is less disruptive to corneal tissue than LASIK, and also carries no risk of flap complications.

A wide variety of patients qualify for PRK, though every potential patient must meet several specific criteria. The procedure is likely a good option if you:

  • Are at least 18 years old (though, to ensure optimal results, you should be over 21 years old).
  • Have a stable corrective prescription that has not changed in the last year.
  • Have good overall eye health.

PRK has been proven to be a safe and effective option for patients who don’t qualify for — or prefer an alternative to — LASIK. It can help you achieve the clear, sharp vision you’ve always wanted and reduce your reliance on glasses or contact lenses.

If you’re considering vision correction surgery like LASIK or PRK, contact ICON Eyecare today. Give us a call or enter your details online to set up your VIP consultation. Our experienced surgeons and eyecare specialists will help you find the procedure that’s right for you.