What is Photorefractive Keratectomy(PRK)?

Photorefractive Keratectomy, or PRK, is an elective, outpatient procedure to improve vision and reduce or eliminate the need for eyeglasses or contact lenses.  In the PRK procedure, the surgeon utilizes the excimer laser to reshape the curvature of the eye for patients with nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism.

Prior to LASIK, PRK was the most commonly performed laser vision correction procedure.   PRK differs from LASIK as no flap is created during the PRK procedure.  PRK may be suitable for people with larger pupils or thin corneas.

 What is an Excimer Laser?

A laser is an instrument that can produce and control a powerful beam of light.  Laser light can be directed and controlled more precisely than normal light, and it can be delivered in extremely brief, intense pulses.

The excimer laser produces a beam of ultraviolet light in pulses that last only a few billionths of a second.  Each pulse removes a microscopic amount of tissue by evaporating it, producing very little heat and usually leaving underlying tissue almost the same as pretreatment.

How is PRK performed?

Before the procedure, an extremely detailed map of the surface of your eyes is created and then used by your surgeon in developing your treatment plan.

To accomplish the reshaping, the surgeon first removes the protective surface layer (epithelium) from the cornea.  The epithelium is regenerated within three to five days.  Your surgeon will then smooth the area and proceed with applying the computer-controlled pulses of cool laser light to reshape the curvature of the eye.  Deeper cell layers remain virtually untouched.

The PRK laser process is completed in approximately 30 to 60 seconds and immediately afterwards, a clear “bandage” contact lens is placed on the cornea to protect it. Additional eye drops are applied.  The bandage lens is usually worn for three days, then removed by your doctor.

The whole PRK procedure itself is usually completed in less than 15 minutes.  Since a layer about as slender as a human hair is typically removed, the cornea should maintain its original strength.

Visual Recovery:

  • Wait two full weeks before swimming, exercising, gardening, or related activities
  • Your vision will slowly improve over a period of 5 to 6 days.  You can wear makeup and return to all your normal activities 48 hours after the bandage contact lens has been removed.
  • Your focus will vary throughout the day and it will take several seconds for objects to become clear.  Your depth perception will be off for 7 to 10 days, so take special care.
  • Finally, it is important to remember that everyone heals at their own pace, so please have patience.  Your progress will be monitored at regular scheduled visits and management will be decided accordingly.


 Speak to your doctor about your reasons for choosing PRK and if you would make a good candidate.


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