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What is PRK Eye Surgery?

Photorefractive keratectomy (PRK) is a laser eye surgery to correct the following common vision problems:

  • Nearsightedness
  • Farsightedness
  • Astigmatism

The main reason people opt for laser eye surgery is to correct the problem without the help of contact lenses and prescription glasses. Nationwide Vision offers this innovative eye surgery, as well as LASIK eye surgery, for an easy way to dramatically improve your vision.

Am I a Good Candidate For PRK Eye Surgery?

LASIK is the widely known laser eye surgery, but some people aren’t able to undergo LASIK. For example, patients with thin corneas and/or chronic dry eyes aren’t typically good LASIK candidates. If that’s the case, PRK eye surgery may be the next best thing to correct a vision problem.

An ideal PRK candidate:

  • Is 18 years or older (eyes need to be fully developed)
  • Dislikes wearing prescription eyewear
  • Is Not pregnant (Hormonal changes can possibly affect laser eye surgery)
  • Shows stable vision for at least a year

Also, candidates who have received LASIK surgery in the past are still eligible for a PRK procedure. Please contact one of Nationwide Vision’s’ doctors to determine if you are a qualified candidate for PRK laser correcting surgery.

What’s the Difference Between LASIK Eye Surgery and PRK Eye Surgery?

Since PRK and LASIK are both laser vision correction surgeries, the two are typically paired together, but PRK eye surgery takes a different route than LASIK. A LASIK procedure requires the surgeon to create a flap out of the cornea so the corneal tissue can be reshaped.

During a PRK eye surgery, the doctor will scrape off the entire outer layer of the cornea, formally called the epithelial. With the outer layer gone, the stroma (interlaced fibers) of the eye can be operated on.

Since a PRK procedure requires the removal of the epithelial, this surgery takes slightly longer than LASIK because the outer layer of the eye needs more time to heal. LASIK and PRK surgery have a high success rate, and the side effects are rare.

The full recovery time for both surgeries is at least six months—this is when the vision will reach its peak quality.

How Should Patients Prepare For the Procedure?

You prepare for a PRK procedure by effectively communicating with your eye doctor. The first consultation will involve an eye exam to determine if you have any pre-existing eye conditions. Your doctor will also give you the exam to measure the eye for:

  • Corneal thickness
  • Refraction
  • Corneal mapping
  • Pupil dilation
  • Reaction to air pressure

If the exam results determine that you are a good candidate for PRK surgery, you will schedule your appointment and prepare your eyes for surgery.

Pre-procedure preparation:

  • Stop wearing rigid gas permeable contact lenses at least three weeks before the surgery
  • Stop wearing other contact lenses at least three days before the PRK procedure
  • Don’t wear makeup or heavy hair accessories (Headbands, scarves, hats, etc.)
  • Eat a light meal while taking prescribed medicine on the day of the surgery

What Exactly Happens During PRK Eye Surgery?

Before surgery begins, the PRK technician will apply a topical anesthetic to the eye. This helps numb the area before using the laser. Once the anesthetic takes effect, the doctor will administer an ultraviolet beam of light onto the outer layer of the cornea. The precision of the beam reshapes the corneal fibers.

What is PRK Recovery Like?

After the cornea is reshaped, the doctor will cover the eye with a bandage to shield the eye from light and debris.

Your eye doctor will need to track your progress and ensure that there were no complications after the laser application. You will need to schedule at least three to four visits within the first six months, and the first appointment will be at least three days after the surgery.

The bandage contact lens can be removed once the surface of the eye completely heals. Along with the eye shield, you will most likely receive anti-inflammatory and antibiotic eye drops to prevent infection and discomfort.

Timeline of eyesight progression after PRK:

  • Vision may be blurry the first two to three weeks
  • Full vision will typically be restored within a six week to six-month timespan

How Can I Learn More About PRK Eye Surgery?

Contact one of our doctors at Nationwide Vision to discuss vision treatments and other eye-related issues. Contact us online or at 1-800-222-4218 for more information or to find a location that offers PRK surgery.