What is PRK?

Photorefractive Keratectomy or PRK a refractive surgery option. It’s been around longer than LASIK and was the first laser vision correction technique. PRK, like LASIK, can correct certain eye conditions like farsightedness, nearsightedness, and astigmatism. During PRK eye surgery, your ICON Eyecare Grand Junction surgeon removes the thin, outer layer of the cornea called the epithelium. Removing this thin layer allows your surgeon access to deep layers of corneal tissue. Then, using a special, computed-guided laser, your surgeon will carefully remove microscopic amounts of tissue to create the exact corneal contours needed for sharper vision. PRK eye surgery usually takes under 10 minutes per eye and is typically done on both eyes at the same time. PRK is a refractive surgery option and is a safe and effective alternative for patients who may not be ideal candidates for LASIK.

PRK versus LASIK

PRK and LASIK are both refractive eye surgeries, designed to correct refractive errors and sharpen vision, eliminating the need for glasses or contacts. PRK and LASIK differ only in the way your surgeon accesses deeper layers of corneal tissue during the procedure. With LASIK, a thin flap is created on the surface of the cornea. With PRK, the thin outer layer of the cornea (the epithelium) is gently swabbed away. Both methods allow the surgeon to create optimal cornea contours, correcting refractive errors, with the specialty laser.

How Long is PRK Recovery?

Because of the nature of the procedure, recovery time with PRK is typically longer than LASIK because the outer layer of the cornea must have time to regenerate. The results appear more gradually, and vision improvements will take longer to stabilize. Patients are required to wear a bandage contact lens to protect the eye for 5-7 days while the tissue grows back, during which they will likely experience some discomfort. Patients will need to use special eye drops for a week following surgery.

Who Is A PRK Candidate?

Typically, thin corneas mean patients may not qualify for LASIK, that is not the case with PRK. Because the thin, outer layer of the cornea is swabbed away during PRK eye surgery, people with thin corneal tissue are usually good candidates. Patients who experience dry eye may also choose PRK over LASIK since the creation of a flap (like in LASIK) can worsen dry eye symptoms. PRK may also be a better option for people who are at higher risk of eye injury or for patients who previously had LASIK eye surgery and need a “touch up” due to changing refractive error. Schedule an appointment with our ICON Eyecare eye specialists to find out if PRK might be the best option for you.

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