PRK laser eye surgery (Photorefractive Keratectomy)

Photorefractive Keratectomy can be abbreviated as PRK. This was the first method of laser eye surgery which was used to treat low refractive errors. It is a suitable surgery for those with thin corneas. PRK and LASIK are both classified as a laser eye surgery although each has its own advantages and disadvantages.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of PRK compared to LASIK?

LASIK patients experience lesser discomfort and they also get better vision faster than PRK. The improvement in PRK is slower and gradual. Surgeons usually choose PRK for patients who have larger pupils and thinner corneas.

An excimer laser is used in the PRK process. Cool ultraviolet light is used to ablate small bits of tissue from the surface of the cornea in order to shape it properly. When the cornea is shaped properly, it will focus light on the eye and on to the retina properly as well, thus resulting in clear vision.

PRK can be a great way to address problems of nearsightedness and farsightedness. For nearsighted people, the objective is to flatten a cornea that is too steep while for the farsighted people, the objective is to steepen a cornea that is too flat. PRK can also correct astigmatism by fixing an irregular cornea and making its contours smoother.

What happens before the PRK procedure?

First, your doctor will give a thorough examination of your eyes and find out the best way to correct your vision. Your doctor may recommend laser ablation or not depending on the findings. Corneal topographers will be used to take photographs of your eye and completely map your cornea. No one has a cornea that is perfectly round and this topographer will identify the irregularities including the flatness or steepness that must be revised in order to have clear vision.

Before the actual procedure, you will also have to tell your doctor about any conditions that you may have that might interfere or affect the outcome of the surgery. There are some conditions that will disqualify you as a candidate for PRK surgery while there are some conditions that will make you postpone the procedure to a later date. You can ask your doctor about the details regarding this.

How is the PRK procedure performed?

PRK is usually performed as an outpatient procedure. The PRK procedure is very quick. It can take less than a minute. You will be awake for the rest of the procedure and not feel anything. Some oral sedatives will be given to you in order to minimize any discomfort.

In general, people will not feel any pain when they go through the PRK procedure. Anaesthetic drops will be put on your eyes in order to minimize discomfort. You will have to lie down as the doctor puts the laser into its proper place. Eyes are operated on one at a time and a retainer is placed on the eyes in order to keep them open. With the anaesthetic drops, this will not be uncomfortable. There is a suction ring that will keep your eye pressurized and immobile throughout the procedure.

There will be a laser machine that makes a steady clicking sound during the procedure. This sound is from the laser pulses that are being emitted. You may smell a faintly acid odour when tissues from your eye are being removed. The surgeon will have complete control over this laser during the procedure. It can be shut down any time just in case something wrong happens. When the procedure is finished, you will be asked to rest for awhile. If both of your eyes are getting operated on the same day then there may be a little time interval between eyes. There are even some people who have the next eye operated on the next week.

What happens after the PRK surgery?

You should always keep in mind the doctor’s advice after every surgery. You should rest amply, take your prescription medications diligently, and contact your doctor if you encounter any problems. Your eyes are just as vulnerable after the surgery compared to the surgery itself so you should take care after the procedure.

Right after the PRK procedure, you will be required to rest at home. You should have someone drive you home after the procedure in order to be safe. You can go to work the following day although this is not advisable. It is best to take a week off and rest your eyes. You should avoid any strenuous exercise for a week because this could put stress on your eyes, cause trauma, and delay the healing.

You should not rub your eyes. The doctor will examine your eyes as often as possible in order to monitor its healing progress. You may even be examined every day. You may have to wear a special bandage contact lens, apply antibiotic drops, and apply anti-inflammatory drops for a couple of weeks after the procedure.

People usually achieve a twenty-twenty vision with PRK or even better although it is unavoidable to have cases where people get twenty forties and such. Come to think of it, twenty forty is already a decent vision range. You may need to wear contact lenses or eye glasses after the laser vision correction although your prescription levels will be much better than they were before you went through the procedure.

Some postoperative complications that can arise include infections and night glares. When you are driving at night, you may notice halos or starbursts when you look at lights.

Despite a successful surgery, people may still need to wear reading glasses or bifocal lenses when they hit their forties. Your eyes will become stiff as you age. This condition is referred to as presbyopia and it is inevitable. You will have trouble looking at objects up close. Looking at objects at a distance would still be okay for a time.

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