The PRK procedure or photorefractive keratectomy is a precursor to LASIK. It is the first type of laser eye surgery developed, and it can be used to treat astigmatism, farsightedness, and nearsightedness.
How Does It Work?
The PRK procedure is quite similar to LASIK. As with LASIK, Dr. Patel uses an excimer laser to reshape the patient’s cornea. While the PRK procedure has a longer recovery time than does LASIK, the biggest difference between the two procedures is the first step.
During a LASIK procedure, Dr. Patel uses a laser to cut a thin flap on the surface of the cornea in order to get access to the cornea. After she has finished working on the cornea, the flap is replaced.
In a PRK procedure, Dr. Patel removes the epithelium or outermost layer of the cornea and discards it. She then reshapes the cornea to give the patient normal vision. The epithelium does grow back, but the process takes several days. It’s also one reason why it takes longer to recover from a PRK procedure than a LASIK procedure.
What Happens During the Procedure?
A PRK procedure is an outpatient procedure. While the patient will be awake, they will be given numbing eyedrops.
After removing the epithelium, Dr. Patel will reshape the cornea with an excimer laser. After finishing, the surgeon will cover the cornea with a special contact lens. Dr. Patel will remove the special contact lens several days later after the epithelium has grown back.
What is the Recovery Like?
Dr. Patel will prescribe antibiotics and medication for the patient to reduce any discomfort and swelling and minimize the risk of infection. The patient will have to visit our office so that our doctor can monitor their progress.
The quality of the patient’s vision may fluctuate during the recovery time. They won’t stabilize at their optimal vision until weeks to months after the operation.
Why Would People Undergo the PRK Procedure Instead of LASIK?
Some people are not good candidates for LASIK, but they can undergo PRK. The corneal flap created during LASIK consists of epithelial and stromal tissues. The cornea, therefore, has to be thick enough to make the cornea flap. Making the corneal flap has also sometimes caused complications.
As such, people with naturally thin corneas are not good candidates for LASIK. The LASIK procedure itself leaves corneas thinner than they were before, so people who have undergone LASIK before probably can’t do so again.
To see if the PRK procedure is right for you, make an appointment at Wichita Vision Institute in Wichita, KS. Contact us today to request a consultation to learn more.