Photorefractive keratectomy (PRK) is a method used to correct refraction errors such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. Similar to LASIK, during the PRK procedure a laser is used to reshape the cornea to correct the refractive error and allow the patient to see normally without glasses or contact lenses.
How Is It Different from LASIK?
The cornea is covered with a protective layer of epithelial cells. The primary difference between the two procedures is how the cornea is accessed-in LASIK, a cut is made and a flap of the epithelial tissue plus some underlying stromal tissue is lifted up allowing access to the cornea, and then after the procedure, the flap is re-laid over the cornea. In PRK, a thin slice of epithelial tissue is completely removed and the eye repairs the deficit by growing a new layer of epithelial cells over the area.
Benefits of PRK
The primary advantage of a PRK procedure is that it does not use a flap and just removes a very thin layer of epithelial tissue. Thus, the procedure can be used as revision surgery for a prior LASIK procedure or to correct vision in patients with a cornea that is thought to be too thin to withstand LASIK. In addition, many of the complications of LASIK involve problems with the flap, and with no flap, there is no risk of flap complications after a PRK procedure. Because there is no flap, there is also a greatly reduced risk of compromised corneal thickness after the procedure.
PRK works extremely well to correct refraction errors. After the recovery period, most patients achieve 20/20 vision without corrective lenses and practically all patients achieve at least 20/40 vision. A minority of patients may experience difficulty with glare and halos at night, but this effect usually diminishes and goes away over time. The effects of PRK are generally permanent, but patients may need reading glasses once past the age of 40 due to the normal aging process; doctors are working on developing methods to permanently correct the need for reading glasses among older people, and some may be available soon.
If you have been considering laser refractive error correction and have been told you aren’t a candidate for LASIK, it is very possible you are an excellent candidate for a PRK procedure; consider visiting Wichita Vision Institute to discuss the procedure with Dr. Patel. If you have been considering ditching your glasses and haven’t consulted anyone about it yet, contact us today to schedule your consultation!