When people think of laser vision correction procedures, they most often think of LASIK, which is the best-known laser eye surgery technique. However, it was not the first. The first-ever laser vision correction technique is known as PRK.
PRK stands for Photo-Refractive Keratectomy. Despite being an older technique, it still remains an extremely popular choice for modern laser eye surgery and transforms the vision of countless patients every year. Unlike LASIK, PRK surgery doesn’t involve the creation of a flap in the epithelial tissue to reshape the cornea beneath. Instead, the entire epithelium is removed and discarded so that the corneal reshaping can take place. Don’t worry – it will naturally regenerate in the days following your procedure. The elimination of flap-creation helps patients to avoid many of the complications that are associated with LASIK laser vision correction.
PRK surgery is fairly straightforward. First, your eyes will be numbed using topical eyedrops. This local anesthetic will be effective for the duration of your procedure. Once your eyes are suitably anesthetized, your eye doctor at Santa Barbara EyeCare will remove the epithelium so that the corneal tissue beneath can be accessed.
Laser technology will be used to carefully and precisely reshape the cornea so that light can be refracted correctly onto the retina. The reshaping should take just a few minutes per eye, though you will also spend some time waiting for the anesthetic eyedrops to take effect as well as relaxing immediately following your surgery while your PRK team monitors you.
Following your surgery, you’ll need someone to drive you home. This is because your vision will remain blurred for several hours, which will make some tasks you take for granted more difficult than normal. Your eyes may also feel slightly sore and uncomfortable, and you may be given medication to help manage your discomfort.
It’s important to rest your eyes as much as possible when you return home. Don’t be tempted to scroll through your cell phone, work, read, or watch tv since anything that requires visual concentration is likely to be painful and tiring. Instead, try and sleep as much as you can for the first 24 hours so that the healing process can begin as quickly as possible.
Always follow the instructions of your PRK surgery team with regards to caring for your eyes, getting back to your usual activities, and taking medication. If you have any questions, your PRK team in Santa Barbara, CA will be happy to answer them.
As with all procedures, there are a number of potential side effects associated with PRK surgery. However, it is worth noting that the potential risks or side effects of PRK are less compared to some other laser vision correction procedures. Potential side effects include:
Excessive watering of the eyes
Itchiness and irritation
Burning or dryness
Sensitivity to light
A feeling as though you have something in your eye
There are a variety of advantages associated with PRK laser vision correction. These include but aren’t limited to:
Although you will need to have your candidacy assessed before you can go ahead with treatment, the vast majority of people are found to be good candidates for PRK. This is because it can be used to correct most refractive vision problems including nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. It is also suitable for patients with very thin or damaged corneas since there is no need for there to be a specific thickness of corneal tissue in order for the procedure to be successful.
Avoiding flap-related complications is one of the main benefits of choosing PRK over LASIK. In LASIK, a small flap is cut into the epithelium which is used to access the underlying corneal tissue for reshaping. The flap then needs to be replaced, but microscopic bacteria and debris can get trapped underneath, the flap could wrinkle, or it could not heal properly. In PRK, the entire epithelium is removed, eliminating this problem.
PRK surgery is extremely successful with around 90% of patients achieving 20/20 vision following their surgery.
If you have any additional questions about PRK laser eye surgery, or would to schedule an appointment to discuss if you could be a candidate for PRK treatment, please contact our team at Santa Barbara Eyecare in Santa Barbara or Goleta, California at (805) 967-9990 or (805) 451-8180.