Photorefractive keratectomy, or PRK, is an option to restore natural visual acuity. Like the more widely know Lasik, it involves using a laser to reshape the surface of the cornea to correct refractive errors like nearsightedness and astigmatism. The PRK procedure has a number of advantages over Lasik, such as not requiring the formation of a flap, which can become dislocated during trauma or vigorous activities, and it can be performed on people who are not candidates for Lasik for a variety of reasons. However, PRK does have a longer recovery time than Lasik, but the wait is worth the better visual results.
Before the procedure
During your initial evaluation, a thorough eye exam will be conducted to ensure the eyes are healthy enough to undergo the PRK procedure, and then a special machine will be used to quickly take pictures of the cornea. The surgeon will use the pictures to develop the laser treatment plan for the surgery.
During the procedure
The actual procedure takes just minutes minutes. A laser is used to reshape the cornea, which only takes a minute or two. After the procedure, Dr. Patel will apply eye drops and a “bandage” contact lens to protect the surgical site.
After the procedure
After the procedure, you will need to have someone else drive you home. It is best to plan to rest at home for two or three days. It is imperative to carefully follow the instructions on how often to apply the prescribed eye drops, and although your eyes might feel itchy and uncomfortable, they should not be rubbed. Eye makeup should not be applied for at least a week in order to reduce the risk of infection. Dr. Patel will perform a checkup a few days after the procedure to ensure healing is proceeding normally.
Most patients can return to work within a few days, although driving at night and other visually demanding tasks may need to be avoided for a week or two. During the first month after the surgery, patients commonly experience blurry vision, light sensitivity, poor night vision, and see halos around lights, but these symptoms go away quickly in most patients. A series of checkups will be performed by the doctor for the first six months after the surgery. Although the six-month mark is generally considered to be the point of complete healing, most patients will have healed and have excellent vision within a month of the procedure.