Photorefractive Keratectomy (PRK)
What is PRK?
During PRK, the surface layer of the cornea, called the epithelium, is gently removed after application of anesthetic drops to numb the eyes. This is a painless process. The same treatment laser as in LASIK is used to reshape the cornea. Once the treatment is complete, a special medication is applied to the corneal bed, after which a bandage contact lens in placed to help with healing. The whole process takes less than five minutes per eye.
Why choose PRK?
The reality is that not every person is eligible for LASIK. There are several components to the surgical evaluation, including a thorough eye examination, corneal mapping, and refraction. Each of these steps is meant to ensure that you are a safe candidate for surgery. While thin corneas, a high prescription, corneal scars and specific corneal dystrophies may prevent you from having LASIK, that does not necessarily mean you can't have PRK surgery.
How effective is PRK?
PRK is just as effective as LASIK for treating myopia (i.e., nearsightedness), the most common refractive condition. For hyperopia (i.e., farsightedness), PRK is associated with a higher chance of regression and longer time to visual recovery. Therefore, there may be more suitable options for you, especially if you are above the age of 45.
What can I expect after PRK surgery?
After surgery, you will be able to go home immediately. You will see your surgeon the next day as well as one week, six weeks, and three months after surgery to ensure proper healing. There may be a few days of discomfort, and vision recovery happens over a few to several weeks. You will be placed on eye drops for one month and oral vitamin C for three months. While "delayed gratification" is the name of the game with PRK, remember that when PRK is recommended, it is because it is the safest option.
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