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What is PRK?

PRK, (Photo-Refractive Keratectomy) is the oldest treatment used to correct refractive errors. In this procedure, surgeons combine computer technology and a precise excimer laser to reshape the cornea. This procedure is very popular as it is used to treat a wide range of nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism, giving the results of 20/20 to 20/40 vision to most patients thus reducing or eliminating the need for glasses or contact lens.

PRK vs. LASIK

PRK is the predecessor to LASIK. The main difference between the two is that with PRK, the epithelium or the protective cover is completely removed. With LASIK, an instrument is used to cut the protective flap and the flap is returned to its position after the cornea has been reshaped. There is less recovery time and less risk of infection with the LASIK procedure. However, with PRK, there is no risk of flap complications, and patients with thin corneas and existing eye problems such as large pupils, dry eyes and epithelium issues may be better candidates for this procedure.

The PRK Procedure

First, you will be given eye drops to completely numb your eye. Then your epithelium (the clear, protective surface layer) is removed. The excimer laser is used to reshape the cornea to the correct focusing power. Some surgeons prefer to replace the epithelium as a natural bandage, while some use a contact lens bandage to help protect and heal.

You may experience discomfort the first 24 48 hours after the procedure. You will be given eye drops to prevent infection and help speed the healing process. Your vision will remain somewhat blurry during the healing process, which takes 3 5 days. You should have functional vision within 3 to 7 days while full vision may take three weeks to months to return. For this reason, many patients choose to have one eye done at a time.