PRK (photorefractive keratectomy) is a laser eye surgery used to correct mild to moderate nearsightedness, farsightedness, and/or astigmatism. It is a no flap alternative to LASIK. During PRK, your eye surgeon uses a laser to deliver a pulsing beam of ultraviolet light on the surface of the cornea, not underneath a corneal flap as in LASIK, to reshape the cornea.

The PRK procedure is done under topical anesthesia and takes about 10 minutes to treat both eyes.

What are the benefits of PRK over LASIK?

PRK actually came out before LASIK surgery. LASIK was introduced as the next generation of vision correction reducing the amount of post-surgery discomfort. But in comparison, PRK is less time-consuming than LASIK.

Overall, PRK gives the patient safer surgical options while still providing the same laser technology and outcomes as LASIK. During the procedure, the eye surgeon avoids the cutting of a flap on the corneal tissue which in turn minimizes potential flap complications as well as intraoperative and post-surgery complications, including severed nerve endings, microscopic wrinkles, irregular astigmatism, and inflammation. Plus, unlike LASIK, PRK does not increase dry eye symptoms for patients who already had symptoms of dry eye before the procedure.

Who would be an ideal candidate for PRK surgery?

If you are tired of wearing correctives lenses or eyeglasses, you may want to consider PRK surgery.  PRK surgery is usually appropriate for people who have a moderate degree of refractive error and no unusual vision problems.

Also, patients with thinner corneas or with corneal surface irregularity would be ideal candidates for PRK surgery, as PRK disrupts less corneal tissue than a comparable LASIK surgery.

Your eye doctor will review whether or not you are a candidate for PRK surgery during your preoperative exam and consultation.

How do you prepare for your PRK screening visit?

If you wear rigid gas permeable contact lenses, stop wearing them at least 3 weeks before your PRK screening visit. If you wear other types of contact lenses, stop wearing them at least 3 days before your visit. You should also bring your current eyeglasses so your prescription can be reviewed.

What can you expect during your PRK consultation?

During your consultation, your eye doctor will discuss with you what you should expect during and after PRK surgery. Your eye doctor will also review your medical history, and test your eyes–taking the measurement of the refractive error in each eye, and mapping of your corneal shape.

You can schedule your PRK surgery at the conclusion of your consultation.

What happens during the PRK procedure?

During the procedure, your eye surgeon removes the corneal surface cells then uses a laser to reshape the cornea. A clear contact lens is usually placed at the end of surgery to reduce irritation during the healing process.

What can you expect after PRK surgery?

You can expect the following after PRK surgery:

  • You may be given a bandage contact lens to wear for the first several days to allow the surface of the eye to heal.
  • You will have a follow-up visit with your eye surgeon 1 to 2 days after surgery to remove the bandage contact lens (as long as the surface of the eye is healed).
  • You will have 2 or 3 additional follow-up appointments scheduled with your eye doctor for the first 3 months after surgery. 
  • Your vision may fluctuate between clear and blurry for the first few weeks following surgery. 
  • Your best vision may not be obtained for up to 6 weeks to 6 months post-surgery. 
  • Your eyes may feel dry. Your eye doctor will give you prescription and over-the-counter eye drops to prevent infection and keep your eyes moist. 
  • You will be cleared to drive a car within 1 to 2 weeks following surgery. 

Are there any side effects associated with PRK surgery?

After PRK surgery, you may experience sensitivity to light within the first few days. Other temporary side effects may include glare symptoms related to light scattering or halos around images.

What is the typical outcome after PRK surgery?

Approximately 90 percent of PRK patients have 20/20 vision without glasses or contact lenses 1 year after the surgery. Over 95 percent have 20/40 or better without glasses or contacts.

Contact Us

If you are interested in PRK surgery, a no flap alternative to LASIK surgery, contact Fisher-Swale-Nicholson at (815) 932-2020 to set up a consultation. You may also request an appointment online.