Photorefractive keratectomy, or PRK, is the original form of laser eye surgery, and while it’s been succeeded by LASIK techniques, there are still certain conditions that make PRK the preferred technique. The eye care professionals at the Witlin Center for Advanced Eye Care, serving East Brunswick, Toms River, and Morristown, New Jersey, know when and where to choose PRK treatment, so if you’re looking for permanent laser vision correction, call or click today for a consultation.
As a vision correction procedure, PRK is very similar to LASIK. It’s not surprising since LASIK techniques developed from PRK. The biggest difference is that the PRK procedure removes the outer layer of the cornea, called the epithelium, while LASIK surgery cuts a flap in the epithelium that’s replaced at the end of the procedure. LASIK surgery typically has much faster recovery times than PRK.
After the epithelium is removed, an excimer laser that’s controlled by a computer with a high degree of accuracy reshapes your cornea. This process is similar to the shaping of a lens to match your eyeglass prescription. PRK can correct the refractive problems of astigmatism, nearsightedness, or farsightedness.
Given that recovery from PRK surgery is longer and more uncomfortable than typical LASIK procedures, LASIK is the choice of both patients and doctors. However, there are circumstances where PRK is preferable to LASIK.
One of the most common determining factors is that not everyone has corneas of the same thickness. Though PRK completely removes the epithelium, rather than forming a flap, the depth of tissue removal is about half for PRK techniques, making it suitable for you if you have thinner than average corneas. This preserves more of the original cornea tissue.
If you also suffer from dry eye, you may not be a candidate for LASIK surgery, for which dry eye is a potential complication. PRK surgery is typically more appropriate for patients with dry eye.
PRK surgery was once preferred to LASIK surgery due to complications with the corneal flap created with LASIK procedures. This is no longer the problem it once was, particularly since the introduction of bladeless LASIK.
The PRK surgery starts with numbing eye drops and the placement of a lid speculum to prevent you from blinking during the surgery. You’ll feel some pressure, but no pain. The surface layer of your cornea is removed with a laser before reshaping, which is controlled by a computer programmed with your eye prescription.
Reshaping only takes minutes for each eye, with the entire procedure completed in about 30 minutes. A temporary contact lens is placed over your eyes to act as a clear bandage as your epithelium heals.