PRK (photorefractive keratectomy) was at one time the most common laser eye surgery. It uses the same excimer laser as the LASIK procedure to reshape the outer layer of the cornea to correct for nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. These days LASIK is more common, but PRK is still an alternative for patients who cannot undergo LASIK Surgery.
Reasons to consider PRK:
Astigmatism (irregularly shaped cornea).
Cornea too thin for LASIK.
Pupil too large for LASIK.
In preparation for surgery, anesthetic eye drops are administered. Next, a speculum is placed in the eye to keep the eyelids open, which is normally not uncomfortable. While the patient fixes his or her gaze on a target, the laser reshapes the cornea by removing tissue (a process called ablation), which is controlled and closely monitored by the doctor. The laser is actually guided by a detailed map of the patient’s eye which has been programmed into a computer beforehand. The ablation usually takes around a minute for each eye, depending on how high the patient’s vision prescription is. Most patients feel no pain during the procedure. After the procedure is complete, a bandage contact lens is placed on the eye. The patient may go home shortly after the procedure; however, someone else must drive or alternate transportation must be arranged.
The doctor may prescribe pain medication for recovery; however, most patients don’t require it since only minor discomfort is experienced. The doctor will also schedule several check-up appointments to monitor the healing process, followed by periodic visits over the next several months. During the recovery process, the patient should rest, and refrain from any strenuous activities for at least a week. Most patients can return to work in a day or two, though it is best to take a few days off to ensure a smooth recovery.