What is PRK?
Photorefractive Keratectomy or PRK is a type of refractive surgery and was the first laser vision correction technique. During this procedure, your ICON Eyecare surgeon removes the thin, outer layer of the cornea (don’t worry it grows back!). This allows your surgeon to access deeper layers to reshape the cornea using a computer-guided laser. The laser removes microscopic amounts of tissue to create the exact corneal contours needed to sharpen vision. The whole process usually takes under 10 minutes per eye. PRK is often seen as a traditional LASIK alternative because it can be performed on patients who cannot have LASIK due to thin corneas. PRK eye surgery can correct certain eye conditions such as farsightedness, nearsightedness, and astigmatism.
PRK versus LASIK
The main difference between PRK and LASIK eye surgery is how the surgeon accesses your cornea during the procedure. With LASIK, a thin flap is created on the surface of the cornea. With PRK, the thin outer layer of the cornea (the epithelium) is gently swabbed away to allow the surgeon to access the treatment area. This outer layer naturally regenerates after surgery. Due to the nature of the procedure, PRK will include a longer recovery time than LASIK. The results appear more gradually, and vision improvements will take longer to stabilize. However, PRK is a safe and effective alternative for patients with thin corneas or other restrictions that may prevent them from qualifying for LASIK. When it comes to safety, outcomes, and predictability, PRK and LASIK are very similar.
Am I a PRK Candidate?
Because the thin, outer layer of the cornea is swabbed away in a PRK procedure, people with thin corneal tissue are usually good candidates. Patients who experience dry eye may also opt for PRK since the creation of a flap (like in LASIK) can worsen dry eye symptoms. PRK may also be a better option for people who are at higher risk of eye injury. Schedule an appointment to find out if PRK might be the best option for you.
How Long is PRK Recovery?
Recovery time with PRK is typically longer than LASIK because the outer layer of the cornea must have time to regenerate following surgery. Patients are required to wear a bandage contact lens to protect the eye for 5-7 days while the tissue grows back, during which they will likely experience some discomfort. Patients will need to use special eye drops for a week following surgery.
PRK is a great option for patients who have thinner corneal tissue and is a more conservative surgical option because there is no flap creation as in LASIK, thus eliminating any “flap risks” present with LASIK. PRK may also be the preferred option for patients who previously had LASIK eye surgery and need a “touch up” due to changing refractive error.
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