Before doctors perfected LASIK’s corneal flap method in the last decade, the laser vision correction of choice was PRK, or photorefractive keratectomy. This procedure has also been called LASEK. LASEK involves lifting the epithelial layer, rather than removing the outer layer of the cornea.
Our surgeons offer PRK as an alternative for patients who can’t have LASIK due to thin corneas, loose corneal surface cells, or corneal irregularity. Like LASIK, it uses an excimer laser to treat nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. Unlike LASIK, PRK/LASEK is performed on the surface of the cornea, rather than on the inner corneal layers.
How to Prepare for Your PRK/LASEK Procedure
During PRK/LASEK surgery, our skilled doctors use computer-controlled pulses of ultraviolet light to vaporize very thin layers of corneal tissue. Though the changes are microscopic, they are enough to sufficiently flatten the cornea (for patients with nearsightedness), steepen the cornea (for farsightedness), and/or smooth out corneal irregularities (for astigmatism). The surgery itself takes about one minute per eye.
After the excimer laser has reshaped the curvature of the cornea’s surface, a contact lens bandage will be placed on the cornea. This helps protect the eye while it is healing.
PRK has a slower recovery time than LASIK, which makes protecting your eye extremely important! On average, it takes the eye about four or five days to grow new epithelial cells. It’s amazing what the human body is capable of!
The surgeons at SightMD will examine your eyes before surgery to determine how much laser ablation (or tissue removal) you require. To do this, we use the iDESIGN WaveScan System to analyze the eye and create a “map” of your unique visual system.
Using this information, we are able to create a computerized guide that precisely directs the PRK laser when our eye doctor surgically reshapes your cornea. Using the iDESIGN WaveScan System allows the most precise results possible and eliminates the possibility of most human error.
What to Expect During PRK/LASEK
Upon arrival at our office on the day of your surgery, we will administer eye drops to numb the area as well as antibiotic eye drops and a prescription medication to calm your nerves. Once you are properly anesthetized, we’ll gently place a speculum on your eye to ensure that it stays open during the procedure.
Like LASIK, there’s no way you can mess up the results by blinking. Having the speculum in place helps keep your eye where it needs to be. The laser is used to gently reshape the cornea. The laser automatically tracks and centers on your eye. This adds to the safety of the procedure.
You will not feel any pain during the procedure. At most, you may feel slight pressure on your eye. PRK is not performed on both eyes at the same time. One eye will be finished, and then the next one will be completed. Some patients prefer having PRK on both eyes on different eyes, but it’s more common to have the procedure on both eyes on the same day.
The Healing Process: After PRK/LASEK
Recovery times vary among our patients. Some can resume their daily activities within 24 hours, while others must take it easy for about a week. You cannot drive after PRK/LASEK so you must have a ride home after the procedure.
Unfortunately, we cannot predict how you will respond to PRK, but our skilled doctors will advise you on ways to make the healing process as comfortable as possible. It may take several weeks or months for your vision to be completely clear as well as stable. You may find that your vision gets better over time, and eventually stabilizes after.
Life After PRK/LASEK
Though it may take some time, life after PRK means clearer vision! In fact, most patients who get PRK achieve 20/20 vision, if not better.
Depending on the severity of your corneal issues before PRK, patients may still need to wear glasses or contacts after PRK. The upside to this is you’ll have a much lower prescription!
Like LASIK, PRK cannot treat presbyopia. Presbyopia is an age related condition that requires the use of reading glasses to see at far and near distances. Presbyopia involves muscles in the lens becoming less flexible, while PRK/LASEK concerns reshaping the cornea.
Ready to schedule a consultation for vision correction? Contact the talented doctors at SightMD today! With 23 convenient locations to choose from, there’s a SightMD that will be best for you.