PRK, or photorefractive keratectomy, has been performed worldwide to correct myopia, hyperopia and astigmatism. PRK involves removing the epithelium, the surface layer of the cornea. Then a computer-controlled excimer laser reshapes the cornea of the affected eye.
PRK uses a laser to sculpt the surface of the cornea. This contrasts with LASIK, which sculpts inside the cornea. PRK is useful for treating low to moderate levels of myopia or hyperopia with and without astigmatism. It is the procedure of choice if the patient has certain corneal dystrophies, certain corneal scars, or a condition called recurrent corneal erosion. This allows the surgeon to make extremely accurate and specific modifications to the cornea with little trauma to the eye.
PRK involves first removing the outer layer of the cornea, called the epithelium. A cool laser beam is then applied to the cornea, and a soft contact lens is placed over the eye as a bandage to help the outer layer to grow back. It usually takes 3-5 days for the outer layer to re-grow over the cornea. During that period, the patient may experience mild to marked discomfort with blurry vision. Unlike with LASIK, it takes longer to achieve the final result in PRK since a greater amount of tissue healing takes place.
While the long-term visual results achieved are predictable and stable, the initial visual recovery associated with PRK is not a fast as with LASIK, although data demonstrate that visual recovery is the same as with LASIK by approximately 3-6 months.
Typically both eyes are not treated at the same time, although they may be in certain instances. You should consult your surgeon about the feasibility of this. As with any surgery, there are risks involved. The complications associated with PRK are similar to those with LASIK. Patients should discuss that information in detail with their surgeons.
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