Photorefractive keratectomy (PRK) is a type of laser eye surgery that permanently changes the shape of the cornea, improving the way it focuses light on the retina. PRK is used to correct myopia, hyperopia and astigmatism by reshaping the cornea. However, one of PRK’s advantages is that it’s used on the surface of the cornea, not underneath. RK requires no incisions, leaving the structural integrity of the cornea intact.
What to expect
During PRK surgery, thin layers of the epithelium, or the outer cell layer of the cornea, are removed with cool ultraviolet beams of an excimer laser. By breaking the bonds that hold the tissue molecules together, the cornea is reshaped, correcting the refractive error. Immediately following surgery, either a patch or a bandage contact lens is placed on the eye for protection.
Patients may have some discomfort for the first few days following surgery, and vision will remain blurry anywhere from three days to a week. It often takes a month or longer to achieve best vision, and eye drops may also be required for an extended period.
PRK remains the preferred method of refractive eye surgery for patients with thin corneas and large pupils. It is also highly effective in treating extreme near-sightedness and may offer an alternative to those who are otherwise not good candidates for LASIK.