Photo refractive keratectomy (PRK) was the first form of laser refractive surgery, developed and FDA-approved in the late eighties. At the time, PRK was a revolutionary breakthrough in ophthalmological surgery. It came to inspire a wave of laser vision correction procedures, including its popular successor, LASIK. Similar to LASIK, PRK reduces or completely eliminates the need for eyeglasses or contact lenses by reshaping the cornea using an excimer laser. Both can be used for patients who experience nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. The entire process, similar to LASIK, generally takes up to 15 minutes.
While PRK achieves the overall effect and results as LASIK, there are various differences between the two eye laser surgery procedures. With PRK, the primary difference is that the thin outer surface of the cornea is removed and discarded. There are no scalpels or incisions made with PRK, a major advantage for many patients. Once the outer surface of cornea is removed, it’s then reshaped with a laser in the same manner as LASIK.
PRK may not be as popular as LASIK, but it’s still commonly used today. There are several reasons why PRK might be your best vision correction procedure. Examples of patients who are good PRK candidates include people with larger pupils, thin corneas, or have other corneal issues or dry eyes. Patients who participate in high impact sports or a physically-demanding vocation that may subject them to injury should also considered PRK over LASIK. Since there is no creation of the corneal flap, there is no chance of flap complications if the patient is later injured in the eyes. We recommend PRK for our patients who are athletes, police officers, or in the military service as a possible option.
Prior to PRK surgery, we discuss with our patients of the potential disadvantages of the procedure. Patients may experience mild discomfort through the surgical process and a few days after surgery. PRK also requires a longer healing and recovery time compared to LASIK. Patients can expect up to a week to heal from the basic side effects of PRK.
If you’re not a suitable candidate for LASIK, PRK may work for you. To find out which laser vision correction procedure is right for you, contact our West Seattle or Burien clinic for a comprehensive eye exam. Our experienced and dedicated Seattle eye laser specialists will take the appropriate measures to determine which procedure is the best fit for your unique eyes. Let us know if you’re interested in learning more about PRK surgery, we’re available to answer any questions you may have on the procedure.