PRK (photorefractive keratectomy) was at one time the most common laser eye surgery. It uses the same laser as the LASIK procedure to reshape the outer layer of the cornea to correct for nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. These days LASIK is more common, but PRK is still an alternative for patients who cannot undergo LASIK Surgery.

Reasons to consider PRK:

  • Nearsightedness (myopia)
  • Farsightedness (hyperopia)
  • Astigmatism (irregularly shaped cornea)
  • Cornea too thin for LASIK
  • Pupil too large for LASIK

The Procedure
After administering a topical anesthetic, the doctor uses a speculum to help you keep the eye open during the procedure. During first part of the procedure the surgeon removes the epithelium either with an instrument such as a brush or with the help of alcohol. This causes the vision to become blurry. While the patient fixes his or her gaze on a target, the laser reshapes the cornea by removing tissue (a process called ablation), which is controlled and closely monitored by the doctor. The laser is guided by a detailed map of the patient’s eye which has been programmed into a computer beforehand. The ablation usually takes around a minute for each eye and most patients feel no pain during the procedure. After the procedure is complete, a bandage contact lens is placed on the eye. The patient may go home shortly after the procedure.

The doctor may prescribe pain medication although most patients don’t require it. Several follow-up appointments will be scheduled to monitor the healing process, followed by periodic visits over the next several months. During the recovery process, the patient should rest, and refrain from any strenuous activities for at least a week. Most patients can return to work in a day or two, though it is best to take a few days off to ensure a smooth recovery.

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