PRK (photorefractive keratectomy) is a refractive vision correction procedure that in some ways is similar to LASIK. It is the second most frequently performed eye correction surgery in the United States.
Like LASIK, PRK uses an excimer laser to reshape the cornea for improved vision. But in PRK, no corneal flap is created with a microkeratome or femtosecond laser prior to the corneal reshaping.
Instead, the central portion of the thin outer layer of the cornea (the epithelium) is removed from the cornea, allowing excimer laser treatment to be applied to the underlying tissue and reshape the cornea. After the laser treatment, the cornea is generally with a bandage contact lens. Within days, new epithelial cells grow back, and the bandage contact is removed.
The Basic Steps in PRK Surgery
Anesthetic eye drops are applied to the eye to prevent discomfort during surgery.
A central area of corneal epithelium is removed — either with a laser or manually after being softened with a dilute alcohol solution.
Our state-of-the-art Allegretto Wave Eye-Q excimer laser is used to reshape the underlying corneal tissue.
Antibiotic and anti-inflammatory drops are applied to the eye, and the eye is covered with a bandage contact lens.
Five to seven days later (after the epithelium has had a chance to grow back), the bandage contact lens is removed.
Schedule your FREE PRK consultation today! Call 478.923.5872.
Pros of PRK vs. LASIK
PRK has one distinct advantage over LASIK: because no corneal flap is created, there is no risk of flap complications during or after the procedure.
This is important for people who are engaged in activities that put them at risk for eye injuries (and potentially, LASIK flap dislocations) after surgery. PRK also can be performed safely on corneas that may be too thin for LASIK. Since no LASIK-style flap is required, the entire thickness of the underlying corneal stroma is available for treatment. A person who has PRK surgery rather than LASIK will have a thicker residual “stromal bed” after the excimer laser treatment. In LASIK, on the other hand, the corneal flap contains two layers of tissue–both epithelial and stromal tissues, so the underlying corneal stroma is reduced in thickness. The same amount of excimer laser reshaping with LASIK leaves less residual stroma under the corneal flap, which may affect the strength and stability of the eye in some cases.
Excimer laser treatments that cause too much reduction in the residual stromal bed have been indicated as a potential cause of a serious LASIK complication called corneal ectasia, which can severely distort vision and cause permanent vision loss. This complication is rare in patients who have PRK. In our hands, PRK is also much less likely to cause a permanent dry eye that LASIK.
It’s important to know that the PRK procedure is generally more comfortable than LASIK, but it does cause more discomfort than LASIK the first few days after surgery. Complete visual recovery after PRK surgery can take longer than LASIK recovery time. However, the long-term benefits of the improved healing of the eye after PRK is the primary reason Dr. Gayton and the team of surgeons at Eyesight Associates prefer PRK and LASEK over the LASIK procedure
LASEK is a laser vision correction procedure for patients suffering from nearsightedness, farsightedness and even astigmatism. LASEK differs from LASIK in that a corneal flap is not created. It is very similar to the PRK procedure with a few variations. Using the most advanced LASEK technology available, our surgeons perform the LASEK procedure to improve your vision by re-shaping your cornea with highly precise beams of laser light allowing your eye to refract light more precisely onto your retina.
Each patient’s treatment is customized and so precise that, following the LASEK procedure, they report their vision is significantly improved. In fact, most patients say their vision is better than it had been while wearing glasses or contact lenses.
Find out if you are a LASEK candidate by scheduling your FREE screening today.
PRK & LASEK Alternatives
There are other options available for our patients who are not PRK or LASEK candidates.
With FDA approval of premium intraocular lenses, over-40 vision (presbyopia), and other visual distortions may now be addressed with lensectomy. Lensectomy is the same procedure as a cataract removal, although the natural lens of the eye has not developed into a cataract.****. On July 15 of 2016, the US FDA approved the Symfony IOL. This is the first intraocular lens (IOL) that provides patients with an extended depth-of-focus, which improves sharpness of vision at near, intermediate and far distances.
The medical team at Eyesight Associates will provide a thorough consultation and assessment of your eyes to recommend a procedure will best correct your vision. Our staff is available to answer any questions you might have.