Photorefractive keratectomy (PRK) is an alternative to LASIK for people who are either not candidates for the bladeless approach or their life-style precludes LASIK. It is a unique laser vision correction procedure that uses an excimer laser to remove a small amount of the top of the cornea in order to correct refractive errors. This method preserves more cornea stroma making it a superior technique for patients with thin corneas.
Before LASIK was available, PRK was the most commonly performed refractive surgery procedure. LASIK brought about several advantages over PRK, including less discomfort and faster results, but PRK is still preferred for patients with thin corneas who are not candidates for LASIK. PRK maintains corneal strength while providing impressive vision correction. PRK may also be the best option for people who do contact sports and for certain professions. Dr. Chaiken will help you understand if this is the right option for you.
During the PRK procedure, the eyes are numbed with anesthetic eye drops, before your doctor uses targeted laser energy to correct the shape of the cornea. The doctor has complete control over the laser throughout the procedure for highly precise, customized results designed to give each patient the best vision for their individual eyes. The entire procedure takes only a few minutes to perform in your doctor’s office.
Once the PRK procedure is completed, you will be able to go home after a few hours, although you will need someone to drive you home. A bandage contact lens will be placed over the eye to protect the surface and allow it to heal properly. This lens will likely be worn for three to four days, depending on your doctor’s instructions. Patients may need to wear glasses after the procedure until vision stabilizes. Your doctor will also prescribe eye drops to prevent infection and keep the eyes moisturized.
While vision may seem to have improved initially, full results may take six weeks to six months to develop. Patients may be able to return to work the next day, unless your doctor recommends resting for a few days. Strenuous exercise should be avoided for at least a week, as this can affect the healing process. You will likely be able to see well enough to drive a car after two or three weeks.
Recovery time is somewhat longer for PRK than LASIK. The end result is comparable. Please contact us for more information about PRK!
The results of PRK are considered comparable to those achievable with LASIK, although some patients may experience vision of only 20/40, and others may still need glasses or contact lenses after their procedure. Another disadvantage of PRK over LASIK is that some patients have significant discomfort and/or pain for 24-48 hours afterward. PRK does not correct presbyopia, a natural change in the eyes that affects everyone over the age of 40, so patients that need reading glasses will continue to need them after surgery. It is important for patients to maintain realistic expectations in order to be satisfied with the results of PRK.
For patients with thin corneas, mild myopic corrections, corneal surface disease, or great fear of flap creation from the LASIK procedure, PRK gives generally excellent and similar visual results as LASIK and may be preferable for some patients.
To learn more about PRK or to make an appointment, please call our office at 212.249.1976.