PRK stands for photorefractive keratectomy and has been around longer than any other laser refractive surgical procedure. However, using the latest laser technology and slightly modified techniques, PRK is still an excellent option for many people. In fact, PRK is currently the procedure of choice for many military surgeons who perform refractive surgery on soldiers who cannot have LASIK due to military restrictions. PRK is a form of advanced surface ablation where no flaps are created. This technique eliminates some of the potential problems that can sometime occur in LASIK patients.
During PRK, the surgeon removes the top layer of cells of the cornea by scraping, peeling or brushing them away. The eye is completely numb, making the process painless for the patient. Once the top layer of cells is removed, the surface of the eye is reshaped to eliminate any error that exists. The same laser that is used to perform LASIK is also used to perform PRK. Therefore, it is the same accuracy and precision that is delivered to the eye, regardless of the technique. At the conclusion of the laser procedure, a contact lens is placed on the patient’s eye and it is allowed to heal. During this process, the cells that were scraped away will re-grow and cover the area that was removed.
The Recovery Process
PRK patients take about one week for the eye to completely heal as the top layer re-grows. It also takes about three to five days for visual recovery, as these top-layer cells are required for good vision. During the recovery process, patients are on three different sets of prescription medication eye drops. Also, patients are given comfort drops and pain medications to help manage some of the mild pain and discomfort that can follow the procedure.
Although PRK takes approximately one week for visual recovery, and though there is some mild pain associated with the procedure, patients still elect to have the procedure for a few excellent reasons. First, there are no flaps associated with this procedure and none of the flap-related problems that can be associated with LASIK, such as infections, inflammations, wrinkles, dislocations and incomplete flaps exist. Second, some of the best recorded visions (20/12) have actually been obtained from PRK patients. Finally, some patients that are not LASIK candidates can actually have PRK. These patients are still able to experience freedom from glasses and contacts even though they aren’t LASIK candidates.
Only you and your doctor can determine which refractive surgery technique is best for you. Call the Texas Vision & Laser Center today and schedule a refractive surgery exam to discuss your options and have all you questions answered.