PRK (photorefractive keratectomy) is a type of refractive surgery. This kind of surgery uses a laser to treat vision problems caused by refractive errors. You have a refractive error when your eye does not refract (bend) light properly. For you to see clearly, light rays must travel through your cornea and lens. The cornea and lens refract the light so it lands on the retina. The retina turns light into signals that travel to your brain and become images. With refractive errors, the shape of your cornea or lens keeps light from bending properly. When light is not focused on the retina as it should be, your vision is blurry.
With PRK, your ophthalmologist uses a laser to change the shape of your cornea. This improves the way light rays are focused on the retina. PRK is used to treat myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness) and astigmatism. The goal of PRK is to correct your refractive error to improve your vision. PRK may reduce your need for eyeglasses or contact lenses. In some cases, it may even allow you to do without them completely.
If you have dry eyes or thin corneas and want to have refractive surgery, PRK may be a good choice for you. This is because some other types of refractive surgery, such as LASIK, are not recommended if you have these conditions.
Also, if you have a very active lifestyle or job, PRK may be a better option for you than LASIK or similar procedures. This is because PRK does not involve cutting a flap in your cornea like LASIK and similar surgeries do. If you are highly active, you could accidentally dislodge a corneal flap, causing problems.
Some people who have certain lenses put in their eyes during cataract surgery may have PRK to fine-tune their vision.
To have PRK, you need to meet certain requirements. Here are some of them.
Some people are not candidates for PRK. They include people with:
Your ophthalmologist can talk with you about other conditions that may keep you from having PRK.
To determine whether you are a candidate for PRK, your ophthalmologist will examine your eyes. Here’s what will be done.
Before surgery: You and your ophthalmologist will discuss your vision needs based on your lifestyle. For example, if you play sports, you may be seeking clear distance vision from surgery.
Also, you and your ophthalmologist should discuss your expectations for PRK. People who have PRK to achieve perfect vision without glasses or contacts run the risk of being disappointed. PRK allows people to do most of their everyday tasks without corrective lenses. However, you might need to wear glasses for certain activities, such as reading or driving at night.
Your ophthalmologist will thoroughly examine your eyes and make sure you are a candidate for PRK. Here is what he or she will do:
During PRK: PRK is usually done in an outpatient surgery center. The procedure usually takes about 15 minutes. Here is what to expect:
At first, your vision will be blurry after PRK. Over 3–5 days, as you heal, your vision will gradually improve. Keep in mind it may take a month or longer to achieve your best vision.
Like any surgery, PRK carries risks of problems or complications you should consider. These include:
Also, with PRK, your vision may end up being under corrected or overcorrected. These problems often can be improved with glasses, contact lenses, or additional laser surgery.
Most complications can be treated without any loss of vision. However, very rare problems may include:
If you are happy wearing contacts or glasses, you may not want to have refractive surgery. Together, you and your ophthalmologist can weigh the risks and rewards of PRK.
About 9 out of 10 people (90%) who have PRK end up with 20/40 vision or better without glasses or contact lenses.
It is important to know that PRK cannot correct presbyopia. This is the normal, age-related loss of close-up vision. With or without refractive surgery, almost everyone who has excellent distance vision will need reading glasses starting around age 40.
To help with presbyopia, some people have PRK to get monovision. This means one eye is left slightly nearsighted and the other eye is adjusted for distance vision. The brain learns to adapt so that the nearsighted eye is used for close work, while the other eye sees distant objects. Monovision is not for everyone. To see if you are able to adapt to this correction, you will probably want to try monovision with contact lenses first.
PRK is a type of refractive surgery. With this outpatient procedure, a laser is used to reshape your cornea, improving how light rays are focused in the eye.
PRK is used to treat myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness) and astigmatism. It cannot correct presbyopia, the normal loss of close-up vision that comes with age. However, some people have PRK to achieve monovision. This allows them to use one eye for close vision and the other for seeing distant objects clearly.
People who cannot have LASIK because their eyes are dry or their corneas are thin may have PRK to correct vision.
If you have any questions about your eyes or your vision, speak with your ophthalmologist. He or she is committed to protecting your sight.