PRK, or Photorefractive Keratectomy is part of a family of procedures called “surface ablations” because the laser is applied directly on the surface of the cornea rather than under a flap, as with LASIK. Another popular surface ablation procedure is LASEK.
The PRK procedure is done under local anesthesia and takes a maximum of 5 minutes per eye.
PRK has been used by surgeons all over the world for more than ten years, even longer than LASIK. However, the new PRK pioneered at Diamond Vision is a marked improvement over the PRK of the 1990’s, offering better surgical instruments, better intra-operative medications, and better post-operative follow-up.
How does PRK compare to LASIK?
Advantages of PRK:
You keep more corneal tissue than with LASIK, ensuring the long-term stability and integrity of your eyes.
You are also better able to have a “touch up” procedure if necessary
There is no risk of flap-related complications.
You are at less risk for dry eyes, because there is no disruption in the nerves that tell your eyes to produce tears.
PRK is more comfortable during the procedure.
Disadvantages of PRK
Recovery takes longer after PRK. Most people do not work for at least 2 days after surgery to allow their eyes to rest. In a Diamond Vision survey of patients who have had surface ablations, seventy-five percent were back to work after 3 days.
Compared to LASIK, PRK is not as comfortable for a few days afterwards. However, advances in follow-up care have considerably improved the comfort of PRK. When patients in our Diamond Vision study were asked to rate their discomfort from zero to four, the majority (56%) said their discomfort was zero or one.
What should I expect after PRK?
Once the eye is corrected, the surgeon will place a soft contact lens to protect your eye while the healing takes place. During the healing time – 5 to 7 days – it is normal to experience blurry or fluctuating vision, light sensitivity, dryness and/or a foreign body sensation. It is common for one eye to heal faster than the other, so do not be alarmed if your vision is better in one eye compared to the other. You will be given oral pain medication if necessary, along with topical eye drops. You may find that you do not feel confident driving while the protective lenses are in.
At your one-week visit the contact lenses are removed and your vision will slowly improve. Drops will be given to use for several weeks, which will aid in healing and prevent inflammation.
Although it can take a few weeks to a few months for patients to fully reach their optimal vision, your visual outcome will be the same as if you had LASIK. However, the long-term safety and stability of your eyes will be higher than if you had LASIK. A few days or weeks of patience will be rewarded by a lifetime of better vision.
What is better for me, LASIK or PRK?
In most cases, PRK is recommended for patients who have thinner corneas, slightly irregular corneas, or are at risk for dry eyes or other conditions. Your Diamond Vision doctor will be able to make a recommendation for you based on extensive testing.
In other cases, patients who are candidates for LASIK chose to have PRK instead, because they prefer a flapless or bladeless procedure.
Why is PRK more expensive than LASIK?
PRK is a specialty procedure, meant to address the needs of people with unusual eye measurements. Compared to LASIK or the old PRK, the new PRK offered at Diamond Vision uses more sophisticated and expensive intra-operative eye drops such as Mitomycin-C, and improved surgical instruments such as the Amoils rotary epithelium brush. The new, state of the art Lotemax eye drop is also used at Diamond Vision for post-operative care after PRK.
Why is PRK becoming more and more popular?
Many studies show that LASIK and PRK produce the same visual results after a few weeks or month. Now that the disadvantages of the “old PRK” have been conquered, doctors like the extra long-term safety afforded by PRK in many patients.
How do I learn more about PRK?
If you would like to discuss the procedure with patients who have had PRK (or a very similar procedure, LASEK), please ask our staff for a list of patient phone numbers. As always, we encourage you to speak to our knowledgeable doctors for any questions regarding this procedure