What is PRK?

PRK, or photorefractive keratectomy, is a refractive surgery that helps treat various vision problems. Patients with refractive errors can benefit from the surgery, reducing the need for eyeglasses or contacts.

During the procedure, ophthalmologists use lasers to change the cornea shape. It helps improve the focus of light rays on the retina. The surgery can help correct myopia, hyperopia, and astigmatism, improving the patient’s vision. Read on to learn more about PRK.

When to Get PRK


If you are tired of wearing corrective lenses, consider refractive surgery. LASIK is the most common type of refractive surgery, but it is not for everyone. If you have thin corneas or dry eyes, PRK may be your best option.

Eye surgery is also ideal for people who have an active lifestyle. Unlike LASIK, PRK does not involve creating a flap in the cornea. Activity can cause the flap to dislodge, which can cause complications.

During PRK Procedure 


PRK is an outpatient procedure that usually takes about 15 minutes. To start the surgery, the doctor will numb your eyes using eye drops. An eyelid holder helps keep the eye open and prevents blinking.

The ophthalmologist will remove the epithelium, the outer cornea layer, using a laser, blade, alcohol solution, or special brush. As you stare at a target without moving your eyes, the doctor will use a laser to reshape your cornea. 

Ideal Candidates for PRK 


An eye exam will determine if you are a good candidate for PRK. To qualify for the procedure, you should:

  • Be an adult over 18 years. Ideally, over 21 when eye changes have stopped.

  • Have a prescription that has remained unchanged for over one year. 

  • Have a refractive error that can be corrected with PRK. 

  • Have healthy corneas and good overall eye health. 

  • Have realistic expectations of what PRK can achieve. 

Patients who have received IOLs after cataract surgery can get PRK to improve their vision.

Poor Candidates for PRK


Some people do not qualify for PRK. These include:

  • People with a history of excessive scarring.

  • Individuals with changing or unstable refractive errors.

  • Those who have a health condition that can affect healing. 

  • A history of various eye infections. 

  • People with corneal disease or scarring. 

  • Patients with advanced glaucoma.

  • Patients with cataracts.

  • Pregnant or nursing mothers.

  • Individuals with uncontrolled diabetes. 

The ophthalmologist will discuss other conditions that may disqualify you from getting refractive surgery. 

Eye Exam Before PRK 


The eye doctor will examine your eyes to determine if you qualify for PRK. The exam will include checking your overall eye health to determine if you have a condition that can disqualify you. 

The doctor will take cornea measurements, check pupil size, and determine your refractive error. If you qualify for surgery, the doctor will discuss your lifestyle and vision needs. Remember, you may still need eyeglasses for certain tasks even after getting PRK. 

After PRK surgery, the eye doctor will insert a “bandage” contact lens to protect the eye as it heals. Get someone to drive you home after the surgery. You will need to avoid strenuous activities for several days after the procedure. You may experience eye pain for two or three days, but pain medications can provide relief. 

For more on PRK, visit Santa Barbara Eyecare at our Santa Barbara, California offices. Call (805) 967-9990 or (805) 451-8180 to schedule an appointment today.

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